29 May 2016 – A police and crime commissioner who campaigned in support of ACPO’s £200 FAC fee hike plans has been praised by BASC for claiming he is pro-shooting.
Martyn Underhill, who was re-elected as PCC for Dorset, repeatedly claimed last year that firearms licensing “cost” his police force £250,000 annually.
Despite accidentally revealing the scale of Dorset’s inefficiency – he said the force was unable to issue an FAC for less than £218 per FAC – Underhill refused to bow to reality when the Home Office review of costs concluded that FACs should cost no more than £88 to issue and set fees accordingly.
He claimed, after the new fees settlement: “The new higher charge still doesn’t cover the full costs for issuing a license… I will continue to campaign and lobby government to stop this absured [sic] public funded subsidy towards firearms license holders.”
Unbelievably, BASC has now praised this man after he claimed to the association that he is pro-shooting.
In an article on the Shooting UK website, BASC said that Underhill had replied “in support of shooting” to a survey sent to all PCCs by the association. Incredibly, BASC also said that none of the 40 PCCs elected have been classified as ‘neutral’ or ‘anti’ shooting – despite just 25 of the 40 PCCs responding to BASC’s survey.
14 of the 40 PCCs elected earlier this month are Labour members, unlike Underhill, who is not formally affiliated to any party.
UKSN comment: Has BASC gone mad?
This is either inept PR aimed at PCCs to make them think BASC is their friend, or the association really is howling at the moon. Underhill is no friend of shooting and is clearly allied with Continuity ACPO and Labour’s ongoing campaign to price people out of our sports.
Indeed, when I tried to ask Dorset Police for simple financial figures to back up Underhill’s wild assertions, they closed ranks disturbingly quickly. I’d say their press office, under Nick Cloke, is one of the most evasive, disingenuous and unhelpful I have ever encountered. They’ll probably wear that condemnation as a badge of honour.
Moreover, to state that none of Britain’s PCCs, including Labour members, have been classified as ‘neutral’ or ‘anti’ is just stupid. Labour’s official policy is to stamp on shooting at any opportunity to do so. More to the point, to expect that every single PCC in Britain is pro-shooting is childishly naive. Are Marford Mill’s people accepting everything they’re told at face value? If so, I’ve got a bridge they might want to buy.
UKSN’s author hasn’t been through all of the UK’s PCCs to analyse their views – frankly there’s better things to do on a Bank Holiday weekend – but gut instinct indicates that people like Ron Hogg, PCC for Durham, won’t have changed their views overnight.
With BASC’s firearms department being staffed by more and more ex-policemen, and people like Hogg and Underhill being lifelong police employees before becoming politicians and campaigning against shooting, one begins to wonder exactly who BASC’s firearms people are working for.