Opinion Former Article

Government could land shooting community with £48 million bill

In a Home Office consultation published today the Government could land the shooting community with a £48 million bill for new medical arrangements in firearms licensing. This is despite the fact that four years ago the same government negotiated an agreement under which no costs were to be imposed on the shooting community.

In its initial assessment of the Government’s proposals BASC, the largest shooting association in the UK, has said that the consultation after so many ministerial meetings and work with officials is most disappointing.

Practice across the 37 police firearms licensing departments currently varies widely, because Chief Constables are given discretion in how they apply the law. The new consultation does little to change this because it will only require Chief Constables “to have regard to “statutory guidance rather than obliging them to run an effective and efficient system.

The new proposals place no obligation on doctors and leave them to take part or not, to levy unreasonable charges or not, as they wish. There is absolutely no guidance in the consultation on a reasonable charging regime.

Bill Harriman Director of Firearms at BASC said:

“This consultation, after four years of chaos in licensing is most disappointing. BASC will be taking legal advice on our response. We are also briefing supportive parliamentarians.”

“BASC will be advising members and the wider shooting community on the contents of the consultation and advising everyone who shoots to respond.”

“BASC wants to see a statutory obligation on doctors to participate in the licensing process in the interests of public safety. Combined with an obligatory marker on medical records this will allow the introduction of a ten year licence reducing the burden on the police, the doctors and the shooting community. BASC is also disappointed that the consultation does not even mention ecommerce in licensing, promised four years ago by the police and not yet delivered.”

Notes to editors

The figure of £48 million is given as the higher estimated cost in the consultation. The Home Office have not revealed how they calculated this sum which could be even higher.

The consultation can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/statutory-guidance-to-police-on-firearms-licensing

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