Please click below for a statement from our Vice-Chairman on the Home Office Consultation in regards to the proposed Firearms Licensing Fees and the NSRA's advice.
Home Office Consultation - Firearms Licensing Fees
We have set out below various points for you to consider when responding to the above consultation which covers proposed fees for Section 5 dealers and carriers, Museums, Olympic and Commonwealth Games shooters (pistol) as well as Approved Shooting Clubs and other licences.
Club Approval fees are proposed to rise from £84 to £1050 for a grant and £900 for a renewal lasting six years.
It is vitally important that clubs and individuals respond before the 9th March 2017. There may be insufficient room on the online consultation document for all your comments so we advise you send a covering letter/email if needed. The consultation document can be found here and the impact assessment can be found here. For best effect, please send a copy of your response to your local MP. Better still, if you have the time and can get an appointment, go and see your MP at their surgery to discuss your points.
Points to make (in your own words);
Home Office Approval of clubs claims to be a "matter of public safety". If this is the case then the cost should be paid out of the public purse from general taxation.
If this argument fails then we should be pressing for an inflation based (RPI) increase since the fees were set in 1995. This would lead to an increase from £84 to £152 for a six year approval.
We do not accept that shooting in general and un-certified shooters in particular present an increased risk to public safety. Indeed, approved clubs are legally required to inform the Police when an individual first applies to join the club and are generally under one-to-one supervision until they have proved themselves safe and competent.
The Home Office has failed to provide any detailed justification for these proposed huge increases. When FAC/SGC fees were being revised last time the Home Office provided a detailed breakdown of the number of minutes different grades of Firearms Enquiry Officers in the police spent on each part of the process of the grant/renewal. They haven't this time which leads to the suspicion that they would struggle to justify their figures. The British Shooting Sports Council has asked the Home Office for this information on behalf of all Shooting Organisations.
Most of the work involved with club approvals is undertaken by the Police. The Home Office no longer send out reminders when club approval is due for renewal (cost saving). They only send a letter requesting payment once the police recommend approval and then send the formal approval document once payment is received. In other words they provide limited administrative support to the process. The Police have a list of questions as part of their enquiries which takes a maximum 20 minutes to answer. In some Police forces where their intelligence databases indicate there are no problems with the club they will deal with the questions by telephone and not carry out a club visit.
Clearly the time taken on the above enquiries and the salaries of staff making them cannot justify the proposed fees. Even if the staff costs were trebled to include overheads they still come nowhere near the costs claimed.
The Home Office is based in a very expensive part of London for office rental costs, which means higher overheads, although in view of their limited input to the process it is unlikely to make a big difference. The 'Impact Assessment' claims that the police role which involves interviews, possible club visits and report writing, currently costs £69,000 per year while the Home Office costs are claimed to be £596,000 per year for a bit of administrative support.
Although limited numbers of licences are granted for Olympic and Commonwealth Games pistol shooters it is proposed that a fee of £470 will be charged for a three year licence. Firstly, the Olympic and Commonwealth Games cycles are each of four years, so a three year licence is of no use and a five year licence would be much more sensible which would bring it into line with normal FAC's.
The shooters are sponsored by British Shooting which limits the need for additional security checks on the individuals involved. There are, however, more rigorous requirements on the storage, transport and use of pistols. None of this adds up to much additional work by the Police or Home Office.
In summary please respond to the consultation right away and make sure you do it well before the 9th March deadline. Please also send a copy to your MP.
Do not leave it to somebody else, and encourage every club member to take part.