Cleveland PCC Barry Coppinger has written to the Home Secretary with his views on the ongoing review of firearms licensing fees.
The 1968 Firearms Act states that fees should be set at a level which will cover the cost of administering the certification and registration procedures for every licence issued.
In his letter Mr Coppinger raises his concerns that the current fee of £50 does not cover Cleveland Police’s costs and he points out that fees have not been reviewed since 2000.
The PCC adds that there are financial implications for the Force as it has to subsidise the Firearms Licensing Unit; in 2013-14 to the tune of £96, 000 (and in 2012-2013 £87, 079).
Nationally changes are being made to the way in which individuals can apply for licenses, with the aim of this being implemented by all UK forces by 2015.
Mr Coppinger has suggested in his letter that the Home Office should therefore allow PCCs across the UK to set license fees and that the agreed amount should reflect the local cost of issuing licenses.
He said: “I feel the national review offers an opportunity for the Home Office to resolve a number of anomalies that have been identified in the licensing and renewal processes.
“As an example if an application for a grant of renewal is refused, the application fee originally paid is returned to the applicant - with the Force not being reimbursed for the time and resources used to process the application to the stage of refusal. A second example is the cost of Doctors’ fees being met by the police and not the applicant.”
Mr Coppinger added that due to ongoing financial constraints placed on the force, “close scrutiny of organisational finances are key to sustainability of services. As this is a particularly important area of work, we will not cut corners by cutting costs.”
He also said that in Cleveland, the nationally set fee in effect costs the same as two police officers and he concluded that if PCCs were allowed to set fees locally, frontline officers jobs could be protected and at no cost to the taxpayer.
Posted on Wednesday 24th July 2013