BASC accuses West Midlands Police of "inefficiencies" as a senior officer claims the force is losing money over firearms applications
In another blow to the shooting community, a senior police official has called on the Government to increase the fees charged to applicants for firearms and shotgun certificates.
David Jamieson, Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) for West Midlands Police, said he wants to make sure that forces are not “subsidising gun ownership”.
Mr Jamieson claims there is an average loss of £36.85 for every application and says that West Midlands Police is subsidising the public by almost £100,000 each year to cover the cost. He further extrapolates a national shortfall of around £6.4million annually.
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“I have asked the Home Secretary to review the rates to stop police forces subsidising the cost of gun ownership,” he said.
“The truth is that the rates the Government set are subsidising gun ownership and harming police numbers. I could recruit extra officers if I were allowed to recover costs on gun licensing. If the Home Office were to increase the charges in line with costs, we could increase police officer numbers by nearly 130 across England and Wales.
“It can’t be right that police forces are not allowed to charge gun owners what it actually costs to process their licences and make the proper checks. The Government needs to carry out a review as soon as possible.”
BASC is highly critical of Mr Jamieson’s campaign and pointed out that West Midlands Police sat on a Home Office working group in 2014 that examined costs before agreeing suitable fees across England, Wales and Scotland.
Bill Harriman, BASC’s director of firearms, responded: “It is quite alarming that the PCC for West Midlands can use inefficiencies in his force to justify wild claims for significant losses at a national level.
“If West Midlands are not making ends meet from fee levels deemed suitable by the working group, then his force has introduced an inefficiency into the process which has caused it to cost more than it should.
“West Midlands still carry out some administratively inefficient processes; for example, land checks, invoking unnecessary conditions on firearm certificates and a failure to introduce ‘e-commerce’. Perhaps they should be examining failures closer to home.”