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Face-to-face interviews may be a thing of the past for thousands of shooters renewing their licences, after three police forces in the Home Counties announced cost-cutting measures.

A joint initiative from Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire Police will introduce ?a riskassessed process, where enhanced intelligence checks will identify those who should receive a home visit?. Essex Police plans to deal with all gun licence renewals by post.

Mike Yardley, spokesman for the Shooting Sports Trust, was critical of the forces? plans: ?This news will be of great concern to many in the shooting community. We feel, with some qualifications, that the current system works well. The UK has one of the lowest rates of armed crime in the world. The idea that routine face-to-face checks between police and shooters at the time of certificate renewal might fall victim to cost cutting seems worrying. It would make sense to keep the checks, but to simplify a body of law that has become over-complicated.?

Guidelines from the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) advise forces to make home visits to gun owners every five years. However, Adrian Whiting, ACPO?s lead on firearms licensing, told the Home Affairs Committee in November of concerns that police budget cuts would bring pressure on the firearms licensing process, ?particularly regarding home visits on grant and renewal?.

The rest of this article appears in 16th February issue of Shooting Times.

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