Nottinghamshire Police and Crime Commissioner Paddy Tipping has today welcomed the Home Office’s announcement to increase gun licensing fees to allow forces to recover the full processing costs.
The new fees will come into effect on April 6 (2015) – some 14 years after the last increase – and will reduce the burden of the license application process on the public purse.
Currently, police forces are only able to recoup just 27% of the cost of issuing a gun licence. A new online licensing service is being developed by police to ensure the application process is fairer and more efficient, with considerably less administration work. Once this becomes operational, police forces will be able to recover the full cost of the service.
Commissioner Tipping wrote to Prime Minister David Cameron last summer to point out that the costs to police forces of administering the current scheme far outweighed the income generated by fees.
The move came after it was revealed the cost of licensing fees in Nottinghamshire was £450,000 in 2014. The income generated from the fees during 2013/14 was £56,000 which left a significant gap.
Commenting on the increase, Commissioner Tipping said: “This is a sensible decision and one that has come at the right time given that we are all facing crippling budgets where every single penny counts. It has always been difficult to justify these costs to policing when they are predominantly supporting a leisure activity rather than to help keep our communities safe.
“The fee changes will still enable us to provide a robust regulatory system for the ownership of guns. The only difference is that shooting enthusiasts and farmers will be individually responsible for payment of their gun license – not local taxpayers. This represents a national saving of more than £20m which could not be more welcome.”
The changes will see the cost of a firearms certificate increase from £50 to £88 while the cost of a shotgun certificate will rise from £50 to £79.50. Renewal of both types of licences will be £62 and £49 respectively compared to the current charge of £40.
The Government keeps firearms licensing constantly under review, both in the interests of public safety and in order to improve its effectiveness. Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary is also currently conducting an inspection into how the licensing system works in practice.
The Government will work with police to introduce the new online system which will be reviewed in 12 months to assess whether the costs are being fully recovered, with a view to increasing fees further if they are not.
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Posted on Monday 16th March 2015