17 Feb 2016 – West Mercia Police has admitted it is unable to process FAC renewals within 119 working days – six months – with simple variations taking the force more than a month to complete.
In a startling public note on its website, West Mercia states that despite its extremely long timescales for routine administration, it will cash shooters’ cheques “immediately” upon receipt – allowing police to earn interest on fees received even though paid-for services are not delivered for months on end.
“Unfortunately we are currently experiencing a high volume of work. We are working extremely hard to improve our timescales and provide you with the best possible service throughout this period of high demand,” said the force in a statement.
The force’s timescales have grown hugely since it was inspected by HMIC in mid-2015: then, renewals took around 75 days, meaning in less than a year, the time taken for renewals has jumped by 58%.
West Mercia came in for heavy criticism in the HMIC review of firearms licensing published last year, with inspectors stating the police force was not meeting requirements set by the College of Policing for “important safeguards of public safety” in firearms licensing. Inspectors also criticised the force, along with Warwickshire, for focusing on meeting numerical targets ahead of assessing risks to public safety.
In addition, West Mercia was cited as “not [having] sufficient resources to handle current or anticipated future demand” in licensing.
UK Shooting News has made a copy of the webpage on West Mercia Police’s website detailing its firearms licensing timescales and presents it below:
Are you a West Mercia certificate holder and are you affected by their worsening service? Leave a comment below or see the “about” page to contact UK Shooting News privately.