Firearms licensing and public safety
“The Chief Constable and his firearms licensing team have my full support for the rigour they apply to the checks they carry out before making decisions on granting a firearms licence or renewing an existing one.”
Following the publication of information from a Freedom of Information request by the Countryside Alliance regarding delays to firearms licensing applications, Nick Alston, Police and Crime Commissioner for Essex, made the following statement:
“Firearms licensing in Essex has become a vexed issue due to the long backlog around applications and licence renewals. I understand this issue is being managed by the issuing of temporary permits and, in the case of those individuals who rely on firearms for their sole occupation, expedited applications.
“However the Chief Constable and his firearms licensing team have my full support for the rigour they apply to the checks they carry out before making decisions on granting a firearms licence or renewing an existing one. This rigour has received strong endorsement from Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary.
“More broadly speaking it makes little sense to me that most of the 43 forces in England and Wales have their own separate administrative systems in place for issuing licences. There must be scope for increasing efficiency by having one national system in place to deal with the administration. Furthermore the firearms licence fees are significantly too low, which is one of the reasons why Essex Police cannot currently take more resource from frontline policing to place into this area.
“Earlier this week, representatives of the farming and rural community and I received a comprehensive briefing on firearms licensing from Inspector Tim Sanders of Essex Police Firearms Licensing team at my Rural Crime Forum. I was pleased to see Essex Police tackling this issue head on with those members of the communities most affected.
“I was reassured by the fact that the Firearms Licensing team are working hard to implement a number of actions to speed up the process, including introducing postal renewals. But I support the Chief Constable’s determination that public safety must be the first priority.”
Firearms licensing was discussed at the forum alongside other topics including modern slavery and its impact on the rural community, preventing and detecting the theft of agricultural and plant machinery, and the work of Essex Police’s Rural Specials team.