Weapon licence subsidy blasted by Cleveland’s Police and Crime Commissioner

Barry Coppinger
Barry Coppinger

A POLICE and crime chief has hit out at Government plans to continue subsidising gun owners’ firearms licences – without raising the fees that weapon enthusiasts have to pay.

Barry Coppinger, Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) for Cleveland, says the fee that police can charge gun holders for firearms licensing is set by the Home Office and has not been reviewed since 2001.

Bobby Turnbull, whose mum Alison, 44, sister Tanya, 24, and aunt Susan McGoldrick, 47, were shot dead by Michael Atherton, 42, in Horden in January last year, has campaigned for licensing fees to be raised from £50, as the total cost of getting a gun licence is around £200 – with the shortfall being made up by tax payers.

Mr Coppinger agrees, and said: “In Cleveland we estimate the subsidy is almost £100,000 which would provide two much needed police officers.

“The current fee needs to go up from the ridiculous £50 to nearer £200 just to cover costs.

“I wrote to the Home Secretary in July requesting that Commissioners be given the power to set fees to cover costs, but despite a reminder I have not received a reply. I have now learned unofficially that the government will not move on this, but it needs to ask itself in times of austerity, what does the public need more? Police officers or subsidising licence fees?

“Failure to allow PCCs to set proper fees means they must continue to subsidise at the expense of police officers.”

A Home Office spokesman said: “We intend to come forward with further proposals shortly.

l It’s your vote: Page 8