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Hertfordshire Constabulary, Bedfordshire Police and Cambridgeshire Constabulary have been named three of the best performing forces in the country when it comes to firearms licensing.

The UK’s largest shooting organisation, the British Association for Shooting and Conservation (BASC), has carried out its fourth annual review of firearms licensing performance and found that the three forces were nationally among the best performing forces based on average application processing times.

They were also among the forces that showed the greatest improvement in turnaround times between 2019 and 2020.

Certification for Bedfordshire Cambridgeshire and Hertfordshire is undertaken by a single amalgamated licensing department – BCH Firearms Licensing.

Bill Harriman, BASC’s director of firearms, said it was “interesting” that forces which had combined firearms licensing departments in alliances tended to perform better. He said amalgamation was something BASC was keen to see rolled out nationally. He said:

“Shooting is extremely popular in these three counties, with a number of well-known shooting grounds and shooting opportunities.

“Credit must be given where credit is due, these three forces have done a great job. They have all managed to make improvements to their turnaround times in every aspect we record despite the additional pressures of the pandemic.

“In many instances they have more than halved turnaround times from the previous year and their turnaround times are a fraction of the mean averages overall.

“Hertfordshire, Bedfordshire and Cambridgeshire have done themselves proud. We have heard good things from them. It is interesting that those forces who have combined firearms licensing departments in alliances tend to perform better. This particular amalgamation has worked so well, it is something we are keen to see rolled out nationally.”

The association’s firearms team obtained and analysed figures for firearm (FAC) and shotgun (SGC) certificate grants and renewals from individual police forces across England and Wales and published them in the form of a league table.

Nationally, the best performing forces based on average application processing times in 2020 were Cambridgeshire*, Bedfordshire*, Hertfordshire*, Warwickshire and Thames Valley.

The latest table is based on figures from 1 January 2020 to 31 December 2020 and uses a traffic light system to show relative performance. Green cells indicate above average performance, while red cells show below average performers. Yellow indicates average performance. Each cell shows the relevant average, recorded in calendar days.

The table can be found here.

Louise Seabrook, head of BCH Firearms Licensing, said:

“Ensuring public safety and delivering the highest possible standards of customer care are priorities for the BCH Firearms Licensing team.

“The department collaborated in 2015 and last year created a central BCH administration and management hub in Monks Wood, Cambridgeshire.

“Throughout this time, the team has worked tirelessly to provide a seamless and secure service across the three counties to ensure applications are processed as effectively and efficiently as possible.

“The team really has gone from strength to strength and we are very proud to be recognised as the leading firearms licensing service across England and Wales.”

In the run up to the Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) elections on 6 May, BASC’s political team has contacted all candidates to ensure our continuing concerns regarding firearms licensing are recognised. Read more here.

* Certification for Cambridgeshire, Hertfordshire and Bedfordshire is undertaken by a single amalgamated licensing department.