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.

Home Office Responds to Dorset PCC Campaign to Close Funding Gap in Firearms Licencing

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. 


Martyn Underhill
Dorset Police and Crime Commissioner

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Comments (4)

  1. Dan Hanley May 27, 2015 at 10:11 PM

    Given that the increase to £88 was agreed by central government on a full cost recovery basis, should you not be asking yourself why your force cannot meet that target for issuing a FAC?

  2. Steven Wolf May 28, 2015 at 01:37 PM

    I thought that Firearms certification was supposed to be a benefit to the general public. Myself as a firearms owner see no need for a certificate., in fact I am greatly inconvenienced by the regime. Long waiting times, unduly restrictions on type of guns allowed to possess and number of ammunition, which does nothing for public safety. So yes I do believe that the certification process should be paid from the government purses since it is about public safety and isn't the government supposed to be there for our protection?

  3. OPCC RESPONSE Jun 17, 2015 at 10:57 AM


    Thank you for your comments. Full cost recovery will be achieved when a new national IT system which is being developed comes in which will change the application process from an predominantly paper based process to an electronic process. Currently due to the heavy administration of the licence applications, the force are required to subsidise this by around £250,000 per year. This is explained in more detail in this blog by the Police and Crime Commissioner from August last year. You may also find a number of answers to questions posted in this discussion thread in this blog too. If you would like to make any further comments or raise any other issues, please do get in touch via email on pcc@dorset.pnn.police.uk

  4. Mike Beaumont Jan 05, 2016 at 02:59 PM

    Firearm licenses should be cost neutral. Pretty well anyone who needs or can afford a firearm can certainly afford to pay the cost of a cost neutral license. The funds freed up could be better spent on other security issues. Best administered locally and therefore paid for locally. But the cost of administration needs close control as well.

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