REVEALED: Rising number of gun licences

The number of gun licences being asked for in Avon and Somerset has risen by a quarter since 2015. P

The number of gun licences being asked for in Avon and Somerset has risen by a quarter since 2015. Picture: Pixabay - Credit: Pixabay

The number of gun licences being requested in Avon and Somerset is soaring, prompting some concerns about how police resources are being drained on background checks.

New figures released by the Home Office show almost four applications are day are being submitted.

The rate is rising, with 1,400 applications or renewals in the 12 months preceding March 2018, compared with about 1,100 three years earlier.

The National Police Chief’s Council said current fees ‘may not cover the cost of checking backgrounds before issuing gun licences’.

A new firearms certificate costs £88, and holders have to pay £62 every five years to renew their licences.

That means Avon and Somerset Constabulary received £94,800 in fees in 2017-18, up from £76,400 in 2014-15.

In March 2018, there were 6,177 firearms permits in Avon and Somerset, covering 21,418 guns.

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Assistant Chief Constable Dave Orford said: “We have raised concern that the current fees may not reflect the full cost to administer firearms licensing when taking into consideration additional costs such as home visits and inspections, administering changes and renewals.

“Regardless of fee level, we are committed to ensuring that we deliver firearms licensing in the best way possible.”

Gill Marshall-Andrews, of the Gun Control Network, said with the current fees, police and taxpayers are ‘subsidising’ shooters – a claim rejected by The British Association for Shooting and Conservation.

She added: “What we need is a licence for every gun, with the fee set at £200 and renewable every two years.

“If shooters can spend £1,000 for a day’s shooting and champagne they can certainly afford to pay more to licence their guns.”

In March 2018, there were 157,600 licences across England and Wales, covering 577,500 guns.