Home Office urged to stop police from being forced to 'subsidise gun ownership'

The Home Office has been urged to give police more control over firearms licensing amid claims forces were "subsidising gun ownership".

Police forces are effectively subsidising gun ownership under current laws, says Mr Foster
Police forces are effectively subsidising gun ownership under current laws, says Mr Foster

West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner Simon Foster said forces including West Midlands Police were paying for people to own guns because the cost of carrying out safety checks was greater than a licence fee.

He is calling for forces to be able to increase the cost of owning a firearm after West Midlands Police lost £170,000 last year in producing 2,400 licences.

Mr Foster said the tragic events in Plymouth this summer, where gunman Jake Davison, shot and killed five people, showed the importance of ensuring that "robust processes" were in place around access to firearms.

He said: "It is important that as well as police forces reviewing their processes, the Home Office acts at a national level.

"I am concerned that the amount the Home Office allows forces to charge for licenses is lower than the actual cost of the checks.

"Last year, West Midlands Police lost £170,000 compared to what it costs to process licenses and make the relevant checks. That is over £70 for every license and we processed over 2,400 last year.

"It cannot be right that police forces should have to effectively subsidise gun ownership. The Home Office should allow PCCs to charge what it actually costs forces to process the licenses."

In an answer to a parliamentary question in 2019, then Policing Minister Nick Hurd said that fees for firearm and shotgun certificates issued by the police were last increased in 2015 following a public consultation.

He pledged to carry out a comprehensive review of fees, but no increase has ever been announced.

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