The Metropolitan Police has, uniquely in the firearms licensing world, begun a formal partnership with the licensed firearms community to exchange information and “foster mutual understanding”.
A press release from the British Shooting Sports Council, published on the NRA website, read as follows:
The inaugural meeting of the Independent Advisory Group (IAG) of the Metropolitan Police’s Firearms Enquiry Team (FET) took place on Tuesday, 6 October. The meeting was held at the Empress State Building in London and was attended by representatives of The British Shooting Sports Council, The British Association for Shooting and Conversation, The British Deer Society, The National Rifle Association, The National Small Bore Rifle Association and The Historical Breechloading Smallarms Association.
The purpose of the IAG is threefold. First, it provides a medium through which the concerns and issues of the shooting community can be channelled to the Met’s FET. Second, it provides a significant repository of knowledge and expertise in all the key shooting disciplines upon which members can draw. Third, it provides a means through which the police can inform the key shooting groups of developments and points of issue.
The group will meet every six months.
Chief Supt Mike Gallagher of the Specialist Firearms Command said: “The development of the IAG for Firearms Licensing in London is an exciting and innovative development which will help foster mutual understanding, help manage risk and enhance the service we provide to the shooting community.”
The FET will shortly be moving to a new office and would like to assure shooting communities that disruption to service will be kept to a minimum and that the electronic mailbox FETLondonall@met.police.uk will continue to be monitored during office hours.
This is an excellent development and one that UKSN’s author hopes will spread around the country. I’ve written on here plenty of times before about how the police, at the senior level, are attacking shooting. The creation of the IAG shows that other elements within the police are, at least, trying to deliver a good service and properly engage with the community they serve – which leads to mutual respect and a much greater emphasis on reducing risks to the public, the whole purpose of licensing, rather than everyone operating in a vacuum.
The emphasis on a two-way information flow is reasonably promising, provided ideas and initiatives are brought to the table for reasonable discussion rather than being a means for the police to announce faits accompli.
Much like North Yorkshire Police’s excellent firearms licensing team, whose public engagement efforts with the licensed firearms community through social media and the web are second to none, the Met IAG shows a new and overdue approach to engagement. It is valuable and, if successful, should become a model for other forces to follow.