Proposals to increase firearms licence fees by £38 and shotgun licence fees by £29.50 have been put to public consultation by the Home Office
Suggested changes to firearms licence fees have been put forward by an all party working group that has been liaising with representatives of the shooting community and the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO). The figures are based on the group’s analysis of the costs of administering the licensing system and include increasing the fee payable on the grant of a shotgun certificate from from £50 to £79.50, and on the grant of a firearm certificate from £50 to £88 (for more detail, see table).
An online public consultation on the proposed changes starts today (27 November) and will run until 29 December. It asks participants to state whether they agree or disagree with the firearms licence fee changes and whether they have any views on how the fees should be reviewed in the future. Participants are also asked to give some information about themselves, including whether they own any firearms, whether they live in a rural area and whether they fall into any groups who use firearms in a professional or leisure capacity.
BASC, which sat on the all party working group along with the British Shooting Sports Council, has welcomed the proposals on the grounds that they are based on careful consideration of the costs of the licensing system. BASC previously rejected initial police proposals for shotgun certificate fees to rise to £109 and demanded a fully costed examination of the component parts of the licensing system in accordance with the principles of better regulation and Treasury guidelines and taking into account the police move to an e-commerce online system for firearms licensing.
Shooters deserve a fair price founded on solid evidence
BASC chairman Alan Jarrett commented: “We welcome the government’s initiative to involve stakeholders and do the job properly. Those who shoot can have confidence that they are paying a fair price for their certificate which has been decided after a rigorous process founded on solid evidence. We hope to see this proposal implemented after the consultation. I would urge everyone who shoots to make their views known in the Home Office online consultation.”
Geoffrey Clifton-Brown MP, chairman of the all-party parliamentary group for shooting and conservation, who worked closely with the Home Office on the matter, said: “I believe this is a good result for all sections of the shooting community. It provides a fair basis for fee levels in the future. Under these proposals the police are committed to achieving a cost-effective and consistent service across 42 constabularies. This is a good example of the All-Party Group working with BASC and the other shooting organisations, the police and the Home Office to produce an acceptable result and one which protects the shooting community for the future.”
The Countryside Alliance also welcomed the proposals. Director of campaigns Tim Bonner said: “The proposed increase in firearms licence fees is fair and proportionate bearing in mind the proposed move to an online system and that it has been 13 years since the last increase in fees.
“It is important that the licence system is effective and consistent across forces and serves users and the public to ensure safety. We urge the Government to make speedy progress towards modernisation of the licensing system and encourage all our members to take part in the consultation.”
Launching the consultation, the Home Office stated that “according to police estimates, forces currently recoup only 27% of the cost of issuing licences, which is unsustainable in the long term.”
Minister for Crime Prevention Lynne Featherstone described the consultation as “an important step forward in improving the licensing regime as a whole,” and said that the proposals will “improve the way the system works for both licence holders and police forces.”
She added that “The UK has some of the toughest gun laws in the world and as part of this it is important that the government keeps the firearms licensing system under review.”
Labour proposes increase to £200
The consultation was launched only days after shadow Home Secretary Yvette Cooper announced that, if elected next year, the Labour party plans to introduce a full cost recovery system for firearms licensing and increase licence fees to almost £200. The latest Labour pledge of fees follows Ms Cooper’s vow at September’s party conference that her party would end “the absurd £17m taxpayer subsidy for gun licences that David Cameron is desperate personally to defend.”
The consultation can be accessed online at http://po.st/FeeConsultation.