Crime chief welcomes increase in firearms fees

The Mayor of Hartlepool, Councillor Stephen Akers-Belcher
The Mayor of Hartlepool, Councillor Stephen Akers-Belcher

A CRIME boss say an increase in fees for firearms licence holders is a “step in the right direction”.

Cleveland’s Police and Crime Commissioner Barry Coppinger has welcomed the increase in the licence fee which authorised firearms holders across the country will pay from April 6.

But he expressed disappointment that forces would still effectively end up subsidising applications, due to the cost of administering the certificates and registering each licence, not being fully covered by the increase.

Barry Coppinger said: “I wrote to the Home Secretary back in the summer of 2013 when the Home Office was conducting a review of firearms licensing fees.

“The fee was £50 then and had been since 2000.

“In my letter I pointed out that the cost to Cleveland Police of administering certificates and registering each license issued was increasing year on year, while revenue was shrinking.

“Clearly, with the unprecedented cuts the police service has endured in recent years, this position was - and is – untenable.

“I did suggest to the Home Secretary at the time that perhaps Police and Crime Commissioners across the UK should be allowed to set fees to reflect local cost.”

He added: “Another concern of mine was that if an application for a firearm or a renewal is not granted, then the fee is returned to the applicant - with no reimbursement for the time or resources used to process the application.

“This seems very unfair.

“I do welcome the forthcoming increase in firearms licensing fee as it is, in my view, long overdue but I will be lobbying further.

“I am certain more can be done by the Government so that forces can use precious funds to pay for officers on the beat rather than subsidising firearms license applications.”