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How will your PCC deal with licensing?

With elections for Police and Crime Commissioners on 2 May, members should ask their candidates about firearms, urges Conor O’Gorman.

I have worked as a polling station clerk in various elections over the years and the Police and Crime Commissioners (PCC) elections are undoubtedly the graveyard shift, with the paucity of visitors making a 16-hour day drag even more interminably. 

That public apathy about who becomes their PCC is surely an opportunity for the shooting community to make candidates realise that firearms licensing is a key issue for active voters in their constituency. 

Last year, tens of thousands heard BASC’s call to act now in opposing a proposed ban on gamebird releasing in Wales, and on the Home Office’s firearms licensing consultation. 

Our weight in numbers is making a difference but we need more of you to join the fight. So let’s keep the momentum going and make this year’s PCC elections a political marker. We must get the point across that we are passionate about shooting and are politically active — and prospective politicians had better start to listen to our needs and act upon them. So what is this all about and what can we each do to help? 


The PCC elections take place in England and Wales on 2 May. One of the key roles of a PCC is to hold the force’s Chief Constable to account for service delivery. The PCC also signs off the police budget and policing plan. As such, they play a vital part in ensuring that their force fulfils its obligations on firearms licensing and delivers the service in an efficient manner that protects public safety. Ahead of the PCC elections, BASC has launched an online campaign that allows each of us to find our local candidates and email them about improving the efficiency of firearms licensing. 

Visit or search online for “find my PCC candidates” and email some or all of them directly as you wish. The following text may help in drafting your emails. 

“I am writing to you as a candidate in the upcoming elections for Police and Crime Commissioners, as a constituent involved in shooting. Firearms licensing comes within the PCC’s responsibility for policing plans, budgets and holding Chief Constables to account. I hope you share the objective of your force running a firearms licensing system that protects public safety and provides an efficient service to those who shoot. 

As firearms licensing is an administrative, rather than an operational function, if elected you would have a vital role in the allocation of resources and accountability for your Chief Constable’s performance. Should you be elected, I would like to know if you will ensure that: 

The firearms licensing department is sufficiently well resourced to deliver certificate renewals and grants in a timely manner — 95% of all renewals and grants (except those involving serious safety concerns which may require more investigation) are completed within 17 weeks. If it doesn’t already exist, will your force be setting up an independent advisory group, where key stakeholders can give feedback to the force on its decisions and performance with respect to firearms licensing? 

Both objectives are referred to in the latest College of Policing approved professional practice. If elected, you should reference this in your policing plan and it should be included in the Chief Constable’s strategic demand assessment of the force’s firearms licensing department. Both documents should be published on your PCC website. 

Thank you in advance for taking the time to read this and reply to me. I will be notifying BASC of your response, which will be made available ahead of the election to those who shoot in your area.” 

If you receive a reply from any of the candidates please forward them to BASC ([email protected]). Let’s all work together to get well-resourced firearms licensing at the front of the agenda for our police forces. 

Dr Conor O’Gorman is BASC’s head of policy and campaigns. He has over 25 years of experience in conservation and land management and a keen interest in wild grey partridges. Contact him at: [email protected]