I propose that fees for the grant/renewal and variation of firearms certificates should be raised.
I think that it is fair to say that many shooters are well and truly fed up with the poor level of “service” provided by many police forces in processing and administering the grant, renewal or variation of firearms certificates. The more cynical amongst us are convinced or at the very least would go as far as to suggest that some forces are playing games and deliberately slowing down or manipulating the process in order to justify an increase in fees rather than adopt best practise or looking at making improvements in ineffective inefficient systems of work. I think that it’s about time that this problem was put to bed once and for all and I am going to suggest that we shooters capitulate and give into this blackmail that we have been subjected too for so long. We should petition that the fees for the grant/renewal or variation be raised to a level of say £100 but in return an acceptable much improved level of service must be provided by the various constabularies. In order to guarantee this a rigid system of financial penalties would be applied to constabularies failing to meet specific targets and time limits.
1. The grant of a certificate should cost £100 and the certificate should be valid for five years, this equates to £20 per annum. A shorter term certificate should be available for a lesser fee, say £50 for two years. A single certificate should cover both section 1 and section 2 firearms so no need for separate documents for those that possess both shotguns and rifles for instance, just different conditions for the various categories of firearm held. It should be possible to process a new application in no more than 12 weeks from initial application to grant. Failure by a police force to process the application in 12 weeks would result in a lesser fee being charged. Let’s say for sake of argument £75 if it takes between 12 and 16 weeks and only £50 if it takes longer than 16 weeks.
2. Certificate renewals would be dealt with in a similar manner to grants. £100 for five years with similar penalties for failing to renew in a timely manner though in this case renewals should only take four weeks at most. If a renewal isn’t dealt with in four weeks then only 50% of the fee should be payable. Certificate holders must ensure that applications are with the firearms department at least one month before the renewal date. If certificates are not renewed by the date of renewal a temporary certificate will need to be issued.
3. All variations including one for one variations should be chargeable at say £20 and it shouldn’t take more than two weeks to return the varied certificate. If the variation takes more than two weeks to process there should be no charge.
4. There should be a charge for visitors permits, say £20 for a certificate valid for one month, after all we have to pay for hunting licences when we shoot in other countries so why shouldn’t it be reciprocal. It shouldn’t take more than a month to issue a visitors permit and if it isn’t issued within a month there should be no charge.
Now this is only a starting point for discussion to kick things off so let’s hear what you think, after all various governments in previous years have applied similar principles of penalties to other agencies and governmental departments so why shouldn’t a similar approach be applied to firearms licensing departments.