Some of the police forces who had been refusing to process new firearm and shotgun certificate applications have changed policy.

North Yorkshire Police, Thames Valley Police, Kent Police and Northamptonshire Police had stopped processing new certificate applications, citing pressures arising from the COVID 19 pandemic. However, these forces have begun accepting applications again. Inspector Andy Palmer, North Yorkshire Police Firearms Licensing Manager, said: “We have re-started the processing of new firearm grant applications, and while there is a backlog we are working hard to ensure any delays will be minimal.”

Inspector Palmer went on to explain that, “In December we were told by the Home Office that certificate holders would face delays obtaining medical reports from GPs, so we have been prioritising support to those affected. As we see more certificate holders reach their expiry date, through no fault of their own, we have decided to issue a six-week temporary permit for anyone due to expire before 1 March 2022.”

Bill Harriman, BASC director of firearms, said: “Having openly criticised forces that ceased accepting grant applications, we welcome this change of policy.

“However, this does not allay our concerns that firearms licensing across England and Wales is close to collapsing. Delays are running into the months, with eight-week extensions and Section 7 temporary permits being increasingly issued, causing significant complications for certificate holders.”

While this news was welcomed by grassroots shooters, Shooting Times remains aware of multiple applicants countrywide who are in limbo as forces fail to make decisions on their certificates. A number of forces appear to not have adopted a formal policy of not accepting new applications and instead are simply not moving forward with new applications they have received.

At the time of going to press Cambridgeshire, Bedfordshire, Hertfordshire and Hampshire Police were all still refusing to accept new applications. Shooting organisations have publicly questioned the lawfulness of this policy and Shooting Times understands that legal action has not been ruled out.