Firearms licensing backlog significantly reduced
Kent Police has significantly cut the time it takes to issue firearms licenses and process renewals, thanks in part to investment from the Police and Crime Commissioner.
Matthew Scott requested an update on the turnaround times at his most recent Governance Board meeting, the principle way he holds the Chief Constable to account in public.
Mr Scott said:
‘When I arrived there was an issue about the length of time it was taking for renewals, and for grants of new certificates. We acknowledge the legitimate concerns of people just trying to register a firearm with us to comply with what are, quite rightly, strict gun laws. The fact that people were having to wait was unfair on them.’
Kent has more than 25,000 firearms licence holders who must apply for a renewal every five years. After receiving complaints about the time Kent Police was taking taken to process applications, Mr Scott released £39,000 in May 2016 for an additional member of staff in the Firearms Licensing Team to improve the situation.
On March 1, Kent Police provided an update to the Governance Board which stated:
‘Weeks of action have been introduced into the department and have seen early positive results in reducing the backlog. The OPCC’s funding has contributed significantly to reducing delays in grant applications, providing a member of staff on a 12 month temporary contract which has been dedicated to the process.’
Deputy Chief Constable Paul Brandon told the meeting:
'We have a target of June 2017 to get us back on level terms. For grants, between July 2015 and January 2016, the average turnaround time was 176 days. In the last six months of 2016 that’s now been reduced to an average turnaround of 50 days so that really is a significant improvement.’
Mr Scott said:
‘The number of complaints I’ve received recently has fallen which is an encouraging sign. Very well done to the team for turning it around under a lot of pressure. The fact Kent Police is being recognised nationally in this area is really positive to see.’