Many of you have kindly filled out my survey on the RFD licensing service across the UK. My main aim is to get data on how the police are performing in each force to support the debate in the Fees Working Group at the Home Office. If you haven’t filled it in - please do so now.
It takes just five minutes and the data is critical to our future. https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/LYGBKSM
There is a study ongoing now in ten forces to determine the true costs of licensing. Then they plan to charge ‘full cost recovery’ to certificate holders and RFDs. While we might be happy to pay for a good service, I consider it a poor time to be asking for more when so many forces are way behind on their statutory duty to provide licences.
Many of you have been in touch with me about the effects of delays in police issuing grants and variations – some are well over 12 months behind where they should be. I am aware of the effects of such delays and the real impact on your businesses. I am working with the British Shooting Sports Council to get action at a national level to improve the service.
The data I am getting through our survey is producing some interesting results. I will share that with you soon. As you would expect there is plenty of variation from force to force but I am pleased that many of you have reported that you have not faced too many difficulties. I hope this is because of the pressure we put on to ensure that RFDs should be prioritised during the pandemic. That said, there are some strong examples of poor service – both in terms of timeliness and the knowledge held by individual FEOs. This is something I will be representing at the Fees Working Group. We cannot afford to accept a cost model based on inefficiency.
In fact, at a time of such delays in certificate issues, it will be hard for any of the shooting organisations involved to accept any increase in costs before a proper service is restored.
Please help by filling in the survey and I will ensure you are properly represented.
We all seek to achieve the highest professional standards – which in the world of firearms legislation is a constant challenge. I have very much enjoyed seeing so many of you on our RFD Training Courses at Bisley and around the country. I am delighted we have also started seeing police licensing representatives on the course. This is one of the ways we can help them help us. Establishing a proper level of FEO understanding of how the trade operates is central to the professional trusted relationship we all desire. We take the course to Scotland at the end of this month, then Bisley and Cambridge later in the year. If you haven’t had a recent update on all the complexity we face, I would very much recommend it to you.
While I’m on the matter of trade knowledge, do check with the GTA if you sense you are being asked to meet demands from licensing that you’re not sure about. I answer some interesting calls each week and it's useful to get feedback on what’s going on. Sometimes the request is fair – sometimes not.
- Recent examples include the need for RFDs to keep their register for 30 years – WRONG – just 5 - it is the police that has to keep a 30-year record on NFLMS.
- RFDs need to move to an electronic register – WRONG. Paper or electronic is still acceptable. We may see change in the future but it is unlikely before the new police computer upgrade.
We are in the final throws of fitting out the Bisley HQ as a proper home for the Trade. Soon members will be able to make use of the facilities for a quick pop-in or bigger events. We will be providing PIN code access shortly. With a range of layout options, it is suitable for meetings, training sessions and social events. Living alongside other organisations like the NRA, CPSA and NSRA and having access to the ranges – rifle and clay - really helps feel the benefits of being a resident at the National Shooting Centre. We don’t occupy the building full time but we are often there if you want a look. Just let the team know and we can be there to show you around.
Thankfully, we are facing some warmer weather and the game fair and show season. Scotland, Wales, Ragley and a series of county events are all approaching fast. At Ragley, we will be running the Gunmakers’ Theatre again and thanks to some enthusiastic volunteers we have got a great line-up of presenters. Bill Blacker, Diggory Hadoke, Gavin Gardner, Mark Osborne, Daryn Hufton Rees, Simon Reinhold, Dave Mills and others will all be on call to educate and entertain. Lin, Kerry and I will be there too, so you have a chance to engage with us face-to-face and give us feedback on how life is on the front line.
With plenty of ongoing work on the lead ammunition restriction, fees, banks, transport, insurance and the like I hope we manage to get there!