Barry Coppinger, Police and Crime Commissioner for Cleveland says he is appalled the Home Office looks set to continue subsidising firearms licences without raising fees.
The fee that police can charge for firearms licensing is set by the Home Office and has not been reviewed since 2001.
Currently the cost to the public purse of the licensing system is estimated at £23.7 million, and the police recover a small proportion of this, estimated at £6.4 million, leaving a shortfall of £17.3 million, according to the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO).
Police and Crime Commissioner for Cleveland Barry Coppinger said: “In Cleveland we estimate that the subsidy is almost £100,000 which would provide two much needed police officers in our neighbourhoods.
“The current fee needs to go up from the ridiculous £50 to nearer £200 just to cover costs. I wrote to the Home Secretary in July requesting that Police and Crime Commissioners be given the power to set fees to cover costs – but despite a reminder I have not received a reply.
“I have now learned unofficially that the government will not move on this, but it needs to ask itself in times of austerity, what does the public need more? Police officers or subsidising licence fees?
“I am not prepared to see corners cut in policing firearms licensing in Cleveland just so that the budget can balance – there is simply too much at stake. But failure to allow PCCs to set proper fees means they must continue to subsidise at the expense of police officers.”
Posted on Wednesday 18th September 2013