There is a pressing need to revitalize the firearms licensing process and this is a wasted opportunity, says the NGO as it files its response to the Home Office Firearms Consultation. Read the NGO response here.


There is a pressing need to revitalize the firearms licensing process and this is a wasted opportunity, says the NGO as it files its response to Home Office Firearms Consultation 2019..


“The firearms licensing procedure was introduced to improve general public safety but the current system to apply for a licence is woefully inadequate. Surely it’s time for a specialist firearms licensing authority to take charge,” said Liam Bell, Chairman of the National Gamekeepers’ Organisation. 


The NGO has advised Government extensively on the various revisions of the Home Office Guidance and was also involved in discussions some years ago about eCommerce for firearms licensing. The gamekeeping profession, specifically mentioned in the Home Office consultation, has a unique and invaluable perspective on the current system.


Liam Bell, continued: “This consultation provides a unique opportunity to assess and upgrade the process. However, there appears to be a serious lack of commitment in the proposals that shows any real improvement will be made to achieve shorter turnaround times and the onus this puts on applicants when public safety is at stake is grossly unfair.”


The NGO response focuses on: 

  • The slow, costly process of receiving a licence, especially the problems of acquiring an appropriate medical assessment from a GP which causes lengthy delays.
  • The lack of commitment to provide adequate training for those who administer the licenses which, again, causes unacceptable delays and inconsistences. This must be addressed. This issue has been highlighted in several reports previously.
  • Good practice is the exception and nothing in the current Home Office proposals offers any reassurance that levels of good practice will be improved.
  • Despite being asked by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC) in 2015 to publish annual certificate application turnaround times to identify poor practice, this has not been done and as a result increases the risk to public safety.
  • There is no mention of streamlining the processes or upgrading the current paper licence with a plastic credit card style as they have in Ireland.
  • A new licensing authority would be able to get to grips with the current problems and hopefully provide an adequate service with appropriate levels of expertise and training to solve many of the current issues.

Liam Bell, concluded: “The NGO will keep pushing for improvements to the licensing system and will continue to work with the Home Office to fight for real progress.”


Involvement of the National Gamekeepers’ Organisation


The NGO has long been involved with discussions and decision-making about firearms licensing.


The NGO publishes and regularly updates ‘Sporting Shooting and the Law: a user’s guide to the Firearms Act’, which is endorsed by the National Police Chiefs’ Council Firearms and Explosives Licensing Working Group (FELWG), carries a foreword by its Chairman and has been circulated to all UK police forces.


In 2013, the NGO organised an unprecedented National Firearms Licensing Conference, chaired by the then FELWG chairman and attended by every police force bar one.


On the medical evidence issue, the NGO was an active member of the Medical Evidence Working Group and has frequently met with the Home Office since. It was also a major participant in the HMIC review of firearms licensing carried out in 2014/15.



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