Express & Star

Police and crime commissioners welcome Home Office review into loss-making gun licences

The police and crime commissioners of the West Midlands and Staffordshire have successfully lobbied the Policing Minister to review the fees for a gun licence, after complaining that local taxpayers foot the bill for administrative fees.

Gun licenses are costing the taxpayer money

In the West Midlands, the annual loss on the processing of licences was around £230,000 last year, with Staffordshire's figure estimated to be even higher as the county accounts for 60 per cent of the licences processed by the joint West Midlands and Staffordshire Firearms Licensing Unit.

Nationally, police forces are thought to be subsidising gun licences to the tune of around £10 million; the equivalent of 200 police officers.

Commissioners Simon Foster and Ben Adams lobbied the Government, privately and publicly, to make changes to the gun licence fees. A firearm certificate in the West Midlands and Staffordshire costs £88 and a shotgun certificate is £79.50.

The Minister of State for Crime, Policing and Fire Chris, Philip MP, wrote to the two commissioners and agreed there should not be a shortfall in the processing of gun licences and confirming the Home Office is conducting a review.

West Midlands PCC Simon Foster said: "This is great news. I have been urging the Government to increase the cost of gun licences for a long time, so that gun owners pay the full cost of the necessary safety checks and admin associated with their licences.

“I see no reason why there should be fewer police officers on the beat because gun licences are not charged at a level that covers their costs."

He added: "I’m pleased that after so long the Government seems to have finally heard my message and I’ve been listened to. Hopefully this will mean police forces, up and down the country, will no longer subsidise gun ownership and will use the money to tackle crime instead.”

Staffordshire Commissioner for Police, Fire and Rescue and Crime, Ben Adams said: “Firearms licensing supports agriculture and the leisure industries – both vital contributors to the Staffordshire economy and to our rural communities.

“I am therefore eager that those wishing to license a firearm receive a high-quality service which not only ensures continuity for those businesses which rely upon legitimate firearms use but also, vitally, provides reassurance that the wider community is protected from any risks.

“An effective licensing service, fully funded by those who use it, is the best way to meet the needs of our region’s firearms users and keep the public safe.”