PCC John Campion is allocating funding to address West Mercia’s firearms licensing unit’s current backlogs and waiting times.
Following the Plymouth shootings, the National Firearms Procedure was refreshed and outlined the need for firearms licensing units (FLU) to carry out many more checks prior to the issuing of a licence. As a result of this, the application process has become much longer.
West Mercia has become the force area with the largest quantity of registered firearms holders in England and Wales, with a total of 38,000 licences now held.
The determining and, where applicable, issue of a firearms licence now takes 230 days, or 251 for a shotgun. Renewal averages are currently 86 days and 66 days respectively, and the units’ tasks have quadrupled in a year. The performance of West Mercia Police is in line with other forces.
PCC John Campion said: “In the last twelve months I have received 46 pieces of correspondence from people frustrated at the length of time it is taking to receive their licences. This has subsequently led to holding to account meetings, with the Chief Constable, to see assurances on what is being done to resolve these issues.
“Whilst it is vital that the appropriate checks are being carried out on individuals, and public safety absolutely cannot be compromised, I have recognised the impact the delays will be causing on people – particularly those that may need a licence for the purposes of work.
The PCC is investing £200,000 which will enable additional capacity within the firearms licencing unit, through a variety of mechanisms, aimed at delivering a faster and more convenient service without compromising public protection and safety.
The PCC added: “I have allocated additional funding to address this backlog and resolve an issue that is affecting a number of West Mercia residents, as well as making the unit more accessible. It is hoped that we will see a reduction in the waiting times without negating the necessary processes involved.”