Concerns raised by police after rise in gun licence applications in Hampshire

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MORE people are applying for gun licences in Hampshire, with police across the country warning that background checks are draining their resources.

The latest Home Office figures show that 1,398 people applied for a new firearms licence or renewed an old permit in the 12 months to March 2018 in Hampshire – compared to 804 applications three years earlier.

Of those, Hampshire Constabulary passed 345 new gun licences and renewed 1,035. A further 18 applications were refused, with five of those renewals.

Research carried out by West Midlands Police estimates England and Wales police forces will lose £10m this year, because the cost of administering licences is not covered by fees.

A new firearms certificate costs £88, and holders have to pay £62 every five years to renew their licences.

That means Hampshire Constabulary received £94,500 in fees in 2017-18, up from £56,400 in 2014-15.

In March 2018, there were 5,461 firearms permits in Hampshire, covering 19,365 guns. Holders only need one licence for multiple weapons.

The National Police Chief's Council said current fees ‘may not cover the cost of checking backgrounds before issuing gun licences’.

Assistant Chief Constable Dave Orford said: ‘We have raised concern that the current fees may not reflect the full cost to administer firearms licensing when taking into consideration additional costs such as home visits and inspections, administering changes and renewals.

‘Regardless of fee level, we are committed to ensuring that we deliver firearms licensing in the best way possible.’