Fieldsports organisations have welcomed the simplification of the firearms application process.
After eight years of consultations between BASC, the police and the Home Office, a new form has been produced that makes applying for a certificate much easier.
The format of the new application was partly designed by the staff at BASC, and following an online survey of its members to see which was preferred, the final form was chosen. Currently, for coterminous certificates, there are four separate forms, which means that much of the information has to be repeated.
However, as of 1 December, there will be a single form for both grants and renewals.
A smaller, separate form will deal with variations for firearms certificates.
Ammunition requirements have also been simplified, and under the new system it will no longer be mandatory to declare how much ammunition can be bought; only how much can be possessed.
Another benefit of the new system is that it no longer requires a ?professionally qualified countersignatory? such as an MP or doctor.
Instead, applicants can ask a ?suitable person? who has known them for two years and is not a family member to countersign the forms.
Chief Constable Andy Marsh, Association of Chief Police Officers? (ACPO) lead on firearms and explosives licensing, told Shooting Times he hoped the new forms would aid in improving the licensing system: ?The majority of people who own and use shotguns and firearms in England and Wales do so responsibly and safely.
In my role as ACPO lead on licensing, I look to promote any change or development that furthers three aims: to reduce the risk of foreseeable harm through the lawful possession of firearms and shotguns; to make the application of licensing legislation less bureaucratic and focused on delivering value; and finally, to deliver a consistent and excellent service to applicants.
?Simplifying the process of licensing to make it more consistent between shotguns and firearms contributes towards achieving all of these objectives.
Much is happening in the world of firearms licensing and I hope that the revised guidance issued by the Home Office, and a new online approach to licensing supported by an appropriate level of fees will all help to maintain the progress that is being made in partnership with licence holders and the bodies that represent them.?
BASC?s senior firearms officer, Mike Eveleigh, said: ?BASC has worked with the police and the Home Office for more than eight years in an attempt to simplify and refine the forms and while they are not perfect, they are a great improvement over the previous forms, and we would like to thank all the BASC members who voted and helped with the development.?
The Countryside Alliance also welcomed the move, with executive chairman Sir Barney White-Spunner commenting: ?The 2013 Firearms (Amendment) Rules, replacing the existing applications forms for firearms and shotgun certificates with a single new form, and introducing a new form for variation of a firearm certificate, are extremely welcome.?