The chief inspector in charge of Police Scotland’s firearms licensing unit has been forced to deny that his department is trying to reduce the number of firearms in Scotland as BASC reveals some of its members have waited up to 9 months for routine certificate renewals.
A BASC press release reveals how its members “have reported delays of up to nine months when applications should be processed within eight to twelve weeks.”
Chief Inspector Fraser Lamb told BASC: “Police Scotland recognises that there have unfortunately been delays in both the renewal and issue of firearms and shotgun certificates this year. New processes and procedures, including the training of over 500 locally based officers to deal with certificate enquiries, are now in place and this new capacity will assist in addressing any delays in processing.”
BASC appears to have directly asked him whether there was an unofficial policy of reducing the number of certificates on issue, as Chf Insp Lamb went on to deny that was the case.
Dr Colin Shedden, director of BASC Scotland, said: “Our advice to shotgun and firearm certificate holders is to respond to the reminder to renew their certificates as soon as they can and to email rather than telephone Police Scotland should they experience any difficulties. If that fails, members are encouraged to call BASC and we will progress the matter on their behalf.
Ominously, he added: “It is essential that such matters are resolved before the same licensing teams take on the responsibility of issuing air weapons certificates, to cover the estimated 500,000 airguns in Scotland, under legislation passed by the Scottish parliament last month.”
Police Scotland has come under heavy fire from the shooting community for dismissing large numbers of experienced firearms enquiry officers in recent months. While individuals at the coal face may well be doing their best, their managers clearly see firearms licensing as an undesirable element of the force’s job and are directing resources away from it. The dismissed FEOs are being replaced with ordinary constables who receive minimal training.
In other news, Police Scotland appears to have been abusing its anti-terror spying powers to hunt down and punish sources who spoke to a journalist investigating why the force whitewashed a murder enquiry.