Opinion Former Article

Firearms licensing league table – where does your force rank?

BASC has published the results of its third annual review of firearms licensing performance.

The association’s firearms team has obtained figures for firearm (FAC) and shotgun (SGC) certificate grants and renewals and coterminous grants, renewals and variations.

Analysis of the data for individual police forces across England and Wales shows some improvement in 2019 compared to 2018.

Nationally, the best performing forces based on average application processing times in 2019 were Cleveland, Essex and Lincolnshire.

The bottom three forces were West Midlands Police, Greater Manchester Police and Avon & Somerset.

South Wales, Dorset and Warwickshire showed the greatest improvement in 2019 compared with 2018.

The forces with the greatest deterioration were Durham, West Midlands and Lancashire.

BASC’s research shows the mean average for FAC grants is 61 days – an improvement on last year’s figure of 69. SGC grants improved for the second year in a row, from a 68 day average in 2017 to 61 days in 2018 to 59 days in 2019. Coterminous grants also showed minor improvement at 57 days average compared with 58 days previously and 63 days in 2017.

Renewals have worsened marginally across the board, with FACs being processed in an average of 50 days, up from 48 days in 2018, which was down from 53 days previously. SGC renewals slowed to the 2017 average of 43 days compared to a 39 day average in 2018. Coterminous renewals crept up to 48 days from 46 in 2018. They were 52 in 2017.

Finally, variation waiting remained the same as last year at 12 days on average (13 days in 2017).

BASC’s firearms officer Rory O’Loughlin, who co-ordinated the research, said 2018 and 2019 were classed as a ‘dip years’, where there is reduced demand on firearms licensing.

The first ‘dip period’ was created when certificate terms were changed from three to five years in duration. Consequently, the five-year cycle now comprises three ‘busy’ years and two ‘quieter’ years. The change in certificate terms created a vacuum in the process that now repeats on a cyclical basis with some forces implementing measures to balance out the “peaks and troughs”, he said.

Mr O’Loughlin said: “Things have stayed largely the same as the previous year – what we have gained with one hand we seem to have lost with the other.

“All police forces should be striving towards providing an efficient, cost-effective, robust system of firearms licensing that protects public safety and provides excellent service to the shooting community.

“BASC will continue to monitor the situation as we enter a busy period in firearms licensing.”

The latest table is based on figures from 1 January 2019 to 31 December 2019 and uses a traffic light system to show relative performance. Green cells indicate above average performance, while red cells show below average performers. Yellow indicates average performance. Each cell shows the relevant average, recorded in calendar days.   

BASC members should contact the firearms team if they have any queries regarding the firearms licensing process.

ENDS

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