Scotland’s single police force is slashing its firearms licensing department from 34 to just 14, it has been learned.
Deadline Press Agency reports that BASC’s Scottish director, Colin Shedden, was told of the job cuts by “upset” police employees.
“My understanding is the 34 enquiry officers will be reduced to 14,” said Shedden. “I have been told by a number of enquiry officers themselves who have been quite upset about the process.”
Deadline reports that instead of fully trained and experienced FEOs, between 200 and 300 ordinary PCs are to be given a 3-day training course and handed FEO duties on top of their other policing responsibilities.
Superintendent Alick Irvine of Police Scotland’s Licensing and Violence Reduction Division claimed to Deadline: “The length of the course is considered sufficient to equip staff with the key skills required for this area of business.”
There are about 20 separate Acts of Parliament alone that have a bearing on firearms licensing and the legitimate use of firearms. This does not take into account the large amount of binding case law and the impenetrably long Guidance on Firearms Law issued by the Home Office and written by the police. It is entirely implausible that any training course could do more than skate over the very basics of firearms law within 3 days.
Michael Matheson, the Scottish parliament’s justice secretary, said in a written response to questions from a Lib Dem: “Police Scotland is currently consulting staff on proposals to change the way the firearms licensing function is managed and delivered. No decisions have been taken as yet on the way forward, but I understand that there will be no compulsory redundancies as a result of the review.”
The cut in FEOs comes as Scotland prepares for the SNP’s inevitable ban on privately owned airguns, which flies in the face of all police and independent expert advice given to them. Although firearms law is firmly controlled by Parliament, control of airguns is – foolishly, in UKSN’s view – devolved to Scottish politicians.