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Gun Licence Subsidy Leaves Region’s Police Forces Over £3m Out of Pocket

Subsidies for issuing gun licences in the South of England have left police forces over £3m out of pocket, analysis by the Labour Party has shown.

At present a firearm or shotgun license costs £50 for a five-year period and a renewal (also lasting five-years) costs £40 but ACPO estimates that it costs the police approximately £200 to process a firearms or shotgun application.

  • The largest shortfall in the country was in Kent where the police force was left £692,610 out of pocket. £195,390 was raised from issuing and renewing licences but the costs of processing equalled £888,000.
  • In the Sussex Police area the total income raised from issuing and renewing licences was £180,590 but the costs of processing equalled £830,800 – leaving a shortfall of £650,210.
  • In Thames Valley the total income raised from issuing and renewing licences was £169,340 but the costs of processing equalled £772,400, leaving a shortfall of £603,060.
  • In Hampshire the total income raised from issuing and renewing licences was £152,510 but the costs of processing equalled £698,000 – that leaves a shortfall of £545,490.
  • In Surrey the total income raised from issuing and renewing licences was £88,260 but the costs of processing equalled £397,400 – that meant a shortfall of £309,140.
  • In Dorset the total income raised from issuing and renewing licences was £68,070 but the costs of processing £304,800, leaving a shortfall of £236,730.


Nationally the net cost to police forces of processing firearms license applications is estimated to be £17m a year. An agreement had been made to increase the license fee to £92 from this Autumn, with a move to full-cost recovery within five years.

However, despite this agreement in an email to Gun Control Network Chair, Gill Marshall-Andrews, the Home Office announced these plans have been abandoned. Sources later linked this directly to number 10.

Commenting on the reports that David Cameron has intervened to prevent the introduction of full-cost recovery for gun licenses, Shadow Crime and Security Minister, Diana Johnson MP said:

“David Cameron promised that police resources would be spent on the frontline, but now he’s protecting a multi-million pound subsidy for his friends in the shooting community while across the country thousands of police officers and PCSOs are being lost. The money being used to fund gun licenses could put hundreds of police officers back on the beat.

“This is not an attack on the shooting community and the important contribution they make to the rural economy. But at a time when Government cuts are leading to the closure of sports centres and swimming pools across the country, we cannot afford a massive subsidy to gun sports. A five-year gun license costs a maximum of £50, a fishing license for migratory fish for the same period would cost £360. It is really time the shooters paid their way.”

Ends

Editor’s Notes:

1.    At present a firearm or shotgun license costs £50 for a five-year period and a renewal (also lasting five-years) costs £40.
2.    ACPO estimate that it costs the police approximately £200 to process a firearms or shotgun application. ACPO estimate the net-cost to police forces of processing firearms license applications is £17m a year.
3.    An agreement had been made to increase the license fee to £92 from this Autumn, with a move to full-cost recovery (as is expected of all Departments by the Treasury) within five years. http://www.acpo.police.uk/ThePoliceChiefsBlog/201311-cc-marsh-blog.aspx
4.    However, despite this agreement in an email to Gun Control Network Chair, Gill Marshall-Andrews, the Home Office announced these plans have been abandoned. Sources later linked this directly to number 10:

“Hi Gill

I just wanted to let you know before you hear it from anyone else that we have been asked to hold on pursuing the firearms fee issue.

The government recognises the huge amount of work that has gone into agreeing proposals on what the fees might look like but does not feel it would be appropriate to pursue it further at this stage.
I realise this will be disappointing news for a wide set of interested parties but we can say that we made substantial progress and we may be able to build on that at some point in the future.

Many thanks

Head of Drugs and Firearms Licensing Unit
Crime and Policing Group
 
Home Office
Fry 5 SE
2 Marsham Street
London SW1P 4DF2”

5.    Following a number of high profile killings committed using legal firearms, including the cases of Derek Bird and Michael Atherton, the Home Affairs Select Committee, Durham Coroner and Independent Police Complaints Commission have all recommended a strengthening of the firearms licensing regime. But the police are being asked to do when they are already subsidising each firearms application by approximately £150 and are losing thousands of officers from the frontline.
6.    Figures released on the 7th August show that police forces in England and Wales handled 58,481 shotgun applications and 23275 firearms applications last year. There are now 1,329,376 legally licensed shotguns in the UK and 507,867 licensed firearms – the highest figure ever recorded. Full figures here:  https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/firearm-and-shotgun-certificates-in-england-and-wales-financial-year-ending-march-2014
7.    Labour would introduce full-cost recovery for firearms licenses, freeing up millions of pounds for the police to spend on frontline officers. We would also work with the shooting community to lower the cost of processing an application.

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