Greater Manchester Police are carrying out a major review of all 11,000 firearms licences held across the force area.
The review comes after concerns were raised about the appropriateness of some of the licensing decisions in a sample of 100 applications processed in GMP’s Firearms Licensing Unit last year. A senior police staff member has been suspended and an investigation is currently underway.
Assistant Chief Constable Ian Wiggett said the decision was taken after investigations by the Independent Police Complaints Commission flagged up concerns in other forces and after revisions were made to national guidelines for the granting of licences. He indicated that “extra safeguarding measures” would be built into the application process.
Citing ‘public safety’ as a motivating factor Wiggett explained:
“If we find cases that do not meet the strict criteria for a licence to be granted, then we will look to secure firearms and revoke licences where necessary.”
Wiggett added that licence holders would not be affected by the review if they have acted and continue to act within the law and guidance that is given. Despite these reassurances those affected will be concerned by the potential for revocation of licences and the consequent seizure of firearms.
From July 2014 an individual who receives a suspended sentence of a minimum of three months is now prohibited from purchase and possession of a firearm/ammunition for five years. Similar provisions in respect of antique firearms were enacted and apply to those who have served custodial sentences of certain lengths and those who receive suspended sentences. Those in lawful possession of antique firearms before the provisions were required to dispose of them before the deadline of 14th July 2014.
Stephensons regulatory department has a dedicated team of lawyers who specialise in firearms regulation and licensing applications/appeals. If you have concerns in respect of the review of firearms licences in the Greater Manchester area, or wish to obtain general advice in respect of how the changes to the national guidelines may affect you, please do contact our regulatory team on 0333 344 4772.