Freedom of information request reveals the quality of service legal gun owners receive varies dramatically depending on where in the country their licensing team is based.

The Countryside Alliance (CA) has said the quality of service a legal gun owner is likely to receive is a “real postcode lottery”.

Following a Freedom of information (FOI) request, the CA said it found “staggering regional disparities” to the number of Section 7 permits issued over the past five years.

Section 7 temporary permits are issued almost exclusively when licensing departments are unable to renew full licences before they have expired. as such they are a good barometer of how well those departments are running.

Tim Bonner, chief executive of the CA, said: “The results showed staggering regional disparities, with police force areas such as Cleveland and Derbyshire issuing no 7 permits at all in 2015 while essex, the worst performer, issued 5,219.

A real postcode lottery

“This is a real postcode lottery. the quality of service a legal gun owner is likely to receive changes dramatically depending on where their licensing team is based.

“This is totally unacceptable and it is for the new Police and Crime Commissioners, elected on 5 May, to hold their licensing departments to account.

“It also emphasises once again how important those elections are, especially to rural communities, so it is incumbent on all of us to use our vote.”

In total, six licensing teams were revealed as performing particularly poorly in 2015: Kent, with 3,008; Thames Valley, with 2,516; Hampshire with 1,205; Dyfed Powys, with 993; and North Wales, with 816.

The FOI request was issued following concerns raised by CA members struggling to renew their firearms licences and a report published by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC).

The HMIC report entitled “targeting the risk” revealed that seven out of the 11 forces questioned admitted their firearms licensing teams were under pressure.

You can find out more about the elections and candidates for Police and Crime Commissioner in your area by visiting www.choosemypcc.org.uk.