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The West Midlands and Staffordshire Police and Crime Commissioners have welcomed confirmation from the Policing Minister that the government is reviewing the fees paid for gun licences, which currently do not cover the cost to West Midlands Police and Staffordshire Police of issuing them.  

At the moment, police forces across the country lose money every time a gun licence application is processed, because the fee charged doesn’t fully cover the costs to the police force of vetting the individual and the associated bureaucracy.

In the West Midlands, the annual loss on the processing of licenses was around £230,000 last year. For more rural forces with higher levels of gun ownership, like Staffordshire, this is likely to be even higher, with the force accounting for 60% of the licences processed by the joint West Midlands and Staffordshire Firearms Licensing Unit.  

Nationally, police forces are thought to be subsidising gun licences to the tune of around £10 million; the equivalent of 200 police officers.

Simon Foster and Ben Adams have been urging the government, privately and publicly, to make changes to the gun licence fees.

Last week, the Minister of State for Crime, Policing and Fire Chris Philip MP, wrote to the two Commissioners to say he agrees that gun licence fees should cover the costs to police forces.

He also confirmed the Home Office has already commenced a review.

The proposals for the new fees will apparently be subject to a public consultation later this year, with the new fees introduced in the autumn.

“This is great news,” said West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner, Simon Foster.

“I have been urging the government to increase the cost of gun licences for a long time, so that gun owners pay the full cost of the necessary safety checks and admin associated with their licences.

“I see no reason why there should be fewer police officers on the beat because gun licences are not charged at a level that covers their costs.

“I’m pleased that after so long the government seems to have finally heard my message and I’ve been listened to. Hopefully this will mean police forces, up and down the country, will no longer subsidise gun ownership and will use the money to tackle crime instead.”

Staffordshire Commissioner for Police, Fire & Rescue and Crime, Ben Adams said: “Firearms licencing supports agriculture and the leisure industries – both vital contributors to the Staffordshire economy and to our rural communities.

“I am therefore eager that those wishing to licence a firearm receive a high-quality service which not only ensures continuity for those businesses which rely upon legitimate firearms use but also, vitally, provides reassurance that the wider community is protected from any risks.

“An effective licensing service, fully funded by those who use it, is the best way to meet the needs of our region’s firearms users and keep the public safe.”

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