Home Office Responds to Dorset PCC Campaign to Close Funding Gap in Firearms Licencing
Every year, Dorset taxpayers subsidise the administration of gun licensing applications by £250,000. I have long campaigned to raise firearms licensing fees to ensure a fair deal for residents in Dorset and the rest of England.
I wrote to the Prime Minister to express my disbelief at his decision to reverse an agreed rise to in the cost charged when people apply for a permit to hold a firearms license.
Norman Baker, Government minister of State had agreed with the Treasury, Home Office, the Regulatory Police Committee and other Government Ministers to raise fees but this was vetoed by David Cameron.
I am pleased that the Home Office has finally agreed to raise the figures from 6April 2015, when the cost of a firearms certificate grant will rise from £50 to £88 with a shot gun certificate grant increasing by £29.50 from £50 to £79.50. Across the County we manage over 14,500 fire arm and shot gun certificates.
Dorset Police estimate the cost of granting a firearms license to be £218 resulting in a subsidy of around £250,000 per year by the Dorset taxpayer. Why so much? Well, on top of office and administration costs, local and national background checks must be completed on the applicant together with a face-to-face visit to ensure they are suitable. A costly and lengthy process.
I’m pleased the campaign has seen some success; the increase in fees will see an extra £50,000 towards meeting our costs meaning the subsidy from the taxpayer will drop to £200,000. This isn’t about generating money to bridge our funding gap. It was about cost recovery, enabling rural police forces like ours to continue to deliver efficient and effective policing services. We shouldn’t expect the tax payer to subsidise the administration costs for individuals who own firearms.
Whilst the new higher charge still doesn’t cover the full costs for issuing a license, it is certainly a step in the right direction. We need a sustainable process where the fees charged represent the cost of issue. I will continue to campaign and lobby government to stop this absured public funded subsidy towards firearms license holders.
Dorset Police and Crime Commissioner