Significantly concerned about the deteriorating performance of West Mercia Police’s Firearms Licensing Unit, Police and Crime Commissioner John Campion has sought reassurance from Chief Constable Pippa Mills.
In March, the PCC increased investment into the Firearms Licensing Unit (FLU) by £200,000 as the average wait for the issue of firearms, and shotgun licences were 230 days and 251 days respectively.
Despite this funding boost, there has been a decline in overall performance with a 24% increase in the backlog of shotgun renewal applications since May (now standing at over 600), as part of an 8% overall increase in backlogged demand in the same period.
While acknowledging West Mercia has the highest volume of firearms licences in the country, and public safety being the focus alongside delivering additional processes, the PCC has raised significant concerns that key outcomes are falling, failing the reasonable expectations communities expect.
In order to address this issue, the PCC is seeking assurance from the Chief Constable that West Mercia Police will be able to make changes to ensure processing times improve and the FLU delivers a service that is fully fit for purpose in the very near future by producing a clear route map.
Police and Crime Commissioner John Campion said: “Lawful firearms are part of the rural way of life and its economy. I have heard frequently from residents, business owners, MPs and councillors about the current unacceptable delays. I share West Mercia Police’s uncompromising focus on public safety, but the FLU’s overall performance must improve.
“After investing an additional £200,000 into the unit, I want the public to feel the benefits of my investment. While I am willing to make more resources available to speed up change, I have called on the Chief Constable to set out a clear plan over the next few weeks to address concerns and reassure me that performance improvements will be delivered swiftly.”
Sam Walker, Regional Officer for The British Association for Shooting and Conservation said: “This has become a frustrating situation, with many of our members now suffering long delays but we welcome the investment and commitment made by the PCC in attempt to rectify the situation.”