Hampshire police chief's gun licence warning

Police chief's gun licence warning

LOADED ISSUE: Gun licences cost the police £196 each to issue.

CONCERNS: Chief Constable Andy Marsh.

First published in News Daily Echo: Photograph of the Author by , Parliamentary Correspondent

RESIDENTS could be at risk because police cannot afford to properly vet gun-owners, Hampshire’s police chief has warned.

Andy Marsh, the chief constable, has criticised cheap shotgun licences that force cash-strapped forces to effectively subsidise applications for certificates.

And he called for a fourfold increase in fees – which have been unchanged for 13 years – to cover the “full cost” of checking whether potential gunowners pose a danger.

As of 31 March 2014, H a m p s h i r e Constabulary had 5,414 firearm certificates on issue, covering 17,281 f ire-arms owned by residents. On top of that, there are 22,398 shotgun certificates covering 47,667 shotguns owned by people in the county.

A gun licence has cost £50 since 2001 – only just over a quarter of the £196 it costs police to issue the licence. Asked about that disparity, Mr Marsh – the police’s lead on firearms in England and Wales – warned it was “unrealistic” to expect forces to maintain the same level of scrutiny over applications for shotguns.

And he said: “There is a likelihood of a significant backlog in grant and renewal without an increase in the costs of a licence.

“Without the staffing levels to constantly reassess risk, it could lead to an increased threat of harm.

“It's becoming increasingly difficult to protect the level of staffing given to the oversight and scrutiny of the licensing process.

“Meanwhile, we have seen other fees such as drivers’ licences and passports rise on a full cost recovery – which I think is the right thing to do.”

The chief constable, who leads on firearms issues for the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO), said the annual taxpayer subsidy across the UK was £17m.

ACPO has suggested a rise to £92 initially, followed by annual increases in line with inflation up to the full cost of processing applications.

In commenting, Mr Marsh has stepped into a growing Coalition row after David Cameron reportedly blocked any licence fee rise.

Norman Baker, the Lib Dem Home Office minister, revealed his frustration at the failure to cut the taxpayer subsidy to shotgun owners.

Mr Baker said: “The current position is difficult to justify – why should the police subsidise the issuing of licences for firearms?

“We are driving greater efficiencies in the way the police handle applications, which will bring the cost of issuing down, but firearms users also need to pay a fair amount, which is not happening at the moment.

“I hope to be able to reach a sensible outcome in the near future.”

Comments (8)

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4:52pm Tue 29 Apr 14

Forest Resident says...

Instead of taking a leaf out of Mr Hayes book and wanting more money for less of a police service how about Mr Marsh stops wasting money policing the lives of feckless families on sinkhole city council estates, the money saved in one week alone would easily cover any shortfall on the cost of licensing law abiding shotgun owners in rural communities which barely see a police presence anyway.
Instead of taking a leaf out of Mr Hayes book and wanting more money for less of a police service how about Mr Marsh stops wasting money policing the lives of feckless families on sinkhole city council estates, the money saved in one week alone would easily cover any shortfall on the cost of licensing law abiding shotgun owners in rural communities which barely see a police presence anyway. Forest Resident
  • Score: 19

4:59pm Tue 29 Apr 14

forest-dweller says...

I had a coterminous licence renewal that took 6 months to get done. And really, how can it cost £196? What do they do to vet me - check the police national computer, maybe ask my GP a few questions. Anything else?
I had a coterminous licence renewal that took 6 months to get done. And really, how can it cost £196? What do they do to vet me - check the police national computer, maybe ask my GP a few questions. Anything else? forest-dweller
  • Score: 3

6:25pm Tue 29 Apr 14

Maine Lobster says...

Trying to squeeze more money out of the the law abiding public again. How about fining all the gratuitous law breakers that are ignored by the police? If you charged every litter lout, dog fouler or cyclist who flouts the law with almost no police interest!
Trying to squeeze more money out of the the law abiding public again. How about fining all the gratuitous law breakers that are ignored by the police? If you charged every litter lout, dog fouler or cyclist who flouts the law with almost no police interest! Maine Lobster
  • Score: 5

6:54pm Tue 29 Apr 14

_watchman says...

The penalty or sentence rarely reflects the cost of investigating or solving a crime, motoring offences for example. The shotgun licence was revised some years ago from 3 to 5 years renewal and mine was delivered by post. The obvious thing to do is licence per gun, if you have an arsenal, then pay for it !
The penalty or sentence rarely reflects the cost of investigating or solving a crime, motoring offences for example. The shotgun licence was revised some years ago from 3 to 5 years renewal and mine was delivered by post. The obvious thing to do is licence per gun, if you have an arsenal, then pay for it ! _watchman
  • Score: -1

7:01pm Tue 29 Apr 14

skeptik says...

A force with 5 chief ranking officers - yes 5! The most perfect nonsense - we still have 43 constabularies - with the HQs that go with that. 8 regional forces and the Met, one training establishment, one materiel purchasing - 0ne manning and pay office with a separate discipline and standards force - non constabulary with powers to investigate ALL ranks of the police - they have nothing to hide - unless they do have an argument?
A force with 5 chief ranking officers - yes 5! The most perfect nonsense - we still have 43 constabularies - with the HQs that go with that. 8 regional forces and the Met, one training establishment, one materiel purchasing - 0ne manning and pay office with a separate discipline and standards force - non constabulary with powers to investigate ALL ranks of the police - they have nothing to hide - unless they do have an argument? skeptik
  • Score: 3

7:39pm Tue 29 Apr 14

_watchman says...

Forest Resident wrote:
Instead of taking a leaf out of Mr Hayes book and wanting more money for less of a police service how about Mr Marsh stops wasting money policing the lives of feckless families on sinkhole city council estates, the money saved in one week alone would easily cover any shortfall on the cost of licensing law abiding shotgun owners in rural communities which barely see a police presence anyway.
When you dial 999 they come irrelevant of housing or social structure, don,t make this a battle of the classes !
[quote][p][bold]Forest Resident[/bold] wrote: Instead of taking a leaf out of Mr Hayes book and wanting more money for less of a police service how about Mr Marsh stops wasting money policing the lives of feckless families on sinkhole city council estates, the money saved in one week alone would easily cover any shortfall on the cost of licensing law abiding shotgun owners in rural communities which barely see a police presence anyway.[/p][/quote]When you dial 999 they come irrelevant of housing or social structure, don,t make this a battle of the classes ! _watchman
  • Score: 0

7:22am Wed 30 Apr 14

AbrahamCollins says...

Just recognize the fundamental, natural human right to keep and bear arms as we do in the United States. Eliminate the permit process.
Just recognize the fundamental, natural human right to keep and bear arms as we do in the United States. Eliminate the permit process. AbrahamCollins
  • Score: 0

9:58am Wed 30 Apr 14

Charlie Bucket says...

AbrahamCollins wrote:
Just recognize the fundamental, natural human right to keep and bear arms as we do in the United States. Eliminate the permit process.
The US still requires you hold a permit before you bear arms. Also, the second amendment actually reads

"A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed"]

Firearms, specifically, are not mentioned. Regulation, however, is. The right to bear arms doesn't just mean any old idiot can own a gun if he wants.
[quote][p][bold]AbrahamCollins[/bold] wrote: Just recognize the fundamental, natural human right to keep and bear arms as we do in the United States. Eliminate the permit process.[/p][/quote]The US still requires you hold a permit before you bear arms. Also, the second amendment actually reads "A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed"] Firearms, specifically, are not mentioned. Regulation, however, is. The right to bear arms doesn't just mean any old idiot can own a gun if he wants. Charlie Bucket
  • Score: 2

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