Stourport On Severn Pistol & Rifle Club Newsletter
M L A G B Newsletter
Welcome to the MLAGB October 2017 Newsletter
Hard to believe it is October all ready. The nights are drawing in, the weather is changing and the clocks go back this month! The Historical Small Arms Rook & Rabbit Competition is on Saturday 7th October all day on A Range. This month also sees the 4th and last round in the 3 UKPSA Postal Competitions for LBF, Shotgun and Action Air. We are doing well is all of these competitions - please see Events Section for dates and support these if you can.
Please see article below on information about loaning guns: https://tinyurl.com/y72et37h
SPRC Has had some good results in the various UKPSA Postal Competitions and with one round to go in the 3 disciplines - LBF, Shotgun and Action Air have some well placed shooters. Final Results will be published after Round 4.
These are the events for October:
Saturday 7th - All Day
Historic Small Arms Midlands Rook & Rabbit
Sunday 15th - 0930
UKPSA LBF Postal Round 4
Mini Rifle, LBR, LBP, Gallery Rifle
Saturday 21st - 1300
UKPSA Shotgun Postal Round 4
There is still a backlog of processing renewals of about 12 weeks, but this is reducing. The reasons given were that there is a peak of renewals every two and three years and over the last 15 months some 7,400 temporary certificates were issued. These have now been processed and proper certificates issued and all should be completed by October this year.
The department now has extra permanent staff which appears to be helping. Previously they used temporary staff on a 12 month contract – after 3 months training, they were effective for another 6 months then started looking for other work in the last months!
Their IT system(s) are rubbish and unlikely to change until a National system is in place (don’t hold your breath).
As ever, get your renewals in as soon as possible and get someone else to check the form AND remember to sign it.
It was suggested some time back for licence periods to be extended to 10 years (like a passport) from the current 5 years. That has been taken up at National level, but again do not expect anything soon. Therefore, from renewals next year, in an attempt to ease the peaks and troughs of their work-load, licence holders are to be asked if they will voluntary accept a 3 or 4 year term for their next licence and pay only a pro-rata fee.
I had suggested previously “bracketing” calibres on licences as they do in Northern Ireland, e.g. up to .22 rim-fire, second category .22 to .3 and third over that calibre. You could exchange weapons in one of the three categories without first getting your licence changed and then notify the police resulting in an easier system with less paperwork and hassle. They have actually investigated this and agree that it would save everyone time, but it would need a change in legislation (the legislation in Northern Ireland is different to the mainland).
There were many examples given of anomalies in the licencing system. Of interest, you could take a hunting rifle to Scotland to shoot legitimately, but if you also took an air rifle without being registered in Scotland you would be committing an offence.
Next was the issue of GP letters for renewals. The police require you to get a GP letter at your cost “if there is any physical or mental condition that may affect your ability to possess and use firearms safely”. They give a list which includes, but is not limited to, mental health disorders, epilepsy, diabetes, stroke, stress related illnesses, depression, alcoholism, substance use or dependency, heart disease and cancer. This is causing problem as there are many anti’s amongst GP’s who will not issue a letter if so requested. If you are a member of BASC, they can help in such circumstances.
If anyone is still having problems with licence renewals, please let me know.
Until next month, safe shooting
SPRC Newsletter Team
Newsletter extra: This space is reserved for additional news regarding target shooting sports in the U.K.
IMPORTANT INFORMATION FROM THE HOME OFFICE RE FAC FEES
Home Office Approved Club – New Fees Proposals
The Home Office has published a consultation which seeks views on the implementation of new fees for firearms licences that are issued by the Home Office including fees for Approval of shooting clubs. The proposals are based on setting the level of fees at rates that allow full cost recovery; the view of the NRA is that the rates quoted are wholly disproportionate to the actual work required and are either incorrectly calculated or represent fundamentally inefficient processes. Full details of the consultation, fees proposals and impact assessment can be found by following
Please note the following:-
(1) The Impact Assessment (page 15) reports a ratio of Home Office (administration) to Police (background checks, interviews, site visits etc.) costs incurred of nearly 6:1. To assert that it costs six times as much to process a two page application form compared to the practical and detailed checks on the ground is astonishing.
(2) The Impact Assessment gives no breakdown of the actual work flow involved in processing a club application; the cost is calculated by estimating a percentage of the total cost of funding the department. This allows no scrutiny of the efficiency or otherwise of the departmental processes and operations.
(3) Variations such as reporting changes in club officers are routine; using the 6:1 ratio per (1) above it surely cannot cost the Home Office £94 to produce a new certificate showing a change of Club name, much less £403 to produce one showing a change of named official to a club officer whose integrity has been checked by the police at a cost of £67, or probably £nil if the officer, as is highly likely, already holds a Firearm Certificate.
(4) In the proposed fees it is suggested that the cost of varying an Approval to take account of new storage location is £470. Since the police, under best-practice full-cost recovery principles already assessed and agreed, can issue an entire Firearm Certificate which must involve background checks on an individual and assessment of security of firearms storage, for £88, what is it that the Home Office are spending the other £382 on?
(5) The NRA has 881 affiliated organisations of which 484 are Home Office Approved Clubs. The Home Office has estimated there are 434 Approved Clubs; this means that the fees proposed will over-recover costs by around 12%. The fact that the Home Office cannot provide an accurate count of the number of Approved Clubs does not reassure us that their systems and records are either efficient or cost-effective.
(1) Rifle clubs are diverse organisations; many shoot full and small bore rifles but only need Home Office Approval for their full bore shooting activities. In total the NRA represents 881 clubs, schools and associations that have a combined membership of 53,000.
(2) Home Office Approval (HOA) is primarily sought by our clubs to provide access for members to club rifles; it is also a condition required by the MoD to book their ranges where much of the full bore shooting is conducted. Membership of a HOA club is the legal requirement to secure the grant of a FAC for target shooting; reducing the number of HOA clubs would significantly reduce the opportunities for many to enjoy full bore shooting.
(3) Access to club rifles is critical for the training of probationary members and allows the instruction of safe handling, marksmanship, range safety etc. They also provide shooting opportunities to those with low incomes including young shooters.
(4) The value to the public purse and benefits to public safety of carefully supervised, properly trained shooters that result from the HOA scheme is obvious. Furthermore clubs are also beacons of volunteering excellence, relying upon unpaid members to serve as officers, administer the considerable paperwork, train new probationary members etc. The existence of a substantial network of small clubs is a contributor to public safety; the close personal contact in a club is one of the best measures to weed out those unsuitable for a FAC at an early stage.
(5) The proposed increases are simply unaffordable for the vast majority of our clubs; they would lose the rifles and the exemption of the need for a personal Firearm Certificate that allow them to train probationers in safe shooting and would deny the opportunity for young shooters and those on low incomes to enjoy our sport. Many of our clubs have a rich heritage reaching back over 100 years; there would be uproar if they were forced to close their doors because of punitive increases in fees. Most clubs operate on a not-for-profit basis. An average HOA club has 41 full bore shooters and 76 total members; I would expect the HOA fee to be largely funded by the full bore shooters.
(6) At the NRA, although we consider the proposal grossly unreasonable, we would not be unduly affected with 8,000 members. A university club, on the other hand, with perhaps 30-40 members, would be significantly hit, particularly with a £470 fee, probably every year, to change the named individual on the Approval to be paid on top of the 6-yearly renewal. It is likely that fullbore shooting would immediately become untenable within universities.
(7) I understand the primary requirements of a HOA Club is to (a) be a properly formed organisation with appropriate constitution (b) have competent and responsible officers (c) have reasonable access to range(s); and (d) provide safe storage for any firearms it holds. Of these (a), (b) and (c) are within the knowledge of the NRA; (d) is readily assessed by the police. We have offered to assist the Home Office in the basic administration of the HOA scheme.
The NRA accepts the principle of the shooting community paying fair fees for services rendered; however we cannot support the current proposals for the reasons above and urge members in general and club officials in particular to respond to the consultation by either Respond online or Email to: firstname.lastname@example.org or by writing to : Firearms Consultation, Home Office Drugs and Firearms Licensing Unit, 5th Floor Fry Building, 2 Marsham Street, London SW1P 4DF.
Group Chief Executive & Secretary General
Practical for May 2017
We have completed the first rounds of the UKPSA Postal Events in Shotgun, Action Air and LBF. We had good turn outs for all events and some excellent scores. We hope to keep this up for the next 3 rounds so that SPRC will be well set at the end of the competitions.
Thursday 11th - Steel Challenge - 1700
Saturday 13th - UKPSA Action Air Postal - Round 2 - 1300 (Subject to receiving course of fire from UKPSA)
Sunday 14th - Bianchi - 0930
Sunday 21st - UKPSA LBF Postal Round 2 - 0930
Thursday 25th - Steel Challenge - 1700
Saturday 27th - Practical Shotgun Practice - 1300
PLEASE SEE BELOW INFORMATION RE FIREARMS LICENSING
Home Office Consultation - Firearms Licensing Fees 16th February 2017
The Home Office opened a public consultation in regards to the proposed changes to Firearms Licensing Fees. We have set out below various points for you to consider when responding to the consultation which covers proposed fees for Section 5 dealers and carriers, Museums, Olympic and Commonwealth Games shooters (pistol) as well as Approved Shooting Clubs and other licences.
Club Approval fees are proposed to rise from £84 to £1050 for a grant and £900 for a renewal lasting six years. It is vitally important that clubs and individuals respond before the 9th March 2017. There may be insufficient room on the online consultation document for all your comments so we advise you send a covering letter / email if needed. The Consultation Document can be found here and the Impact Assessment can be found here. For best effect, please send a copy of your response to your local MP. Better still, if you have the time and can get an appointment please visit your MP at their surgery to discuss your points.
Points you might like to make (in your own words);
Home Office Approval of clubs claims to be a 'matter of public safety'. If this is the case then the cost should be paid out of the public purse from general taxation. If this argument fails then we should be pressing for inflation based (RPI) increase since the fees were set in 1995. This would lead to an increase from £84 to £152 for a six year approval. We do not accept that shooting in general and un-certified shooters in particular present an increased risk to public safety. Indeed, approved clubs are legally required to inform the Police when an individual first applies to join the club and are generally under one-to-one supervision until they have proved themselves safe and competent. The Home Office has failed to provide any detailed justification for these proposed huge increases. When FAC/SGC fees were being revised last time the Home Office provided a detailed breakdown of the number of minutes different grades of Firearms Enquiry Officers in the police spent on each part of the process of the grant/renewal. They haven't this time which leads to the suspicion that they would struggle to justify their figures. The British Shooting Sports Council has asked the Home Office for this information on behalf of all Shooting Organisations.
Most of the work involved with club approvals is undertaken by the Police. The Home Office no longer send out reminders when club approval is due for renewal (cost saving). They only send a letter requesting payment once the police recommend approval and then send the formal approval document once payment is received. In other words they provide limited administrative support to the process. The Police have a list of questions as part of their enquiries which takes a maximum 20 minutes to answer. In some Police forces where their intelligence databases indicate there are no problems with the club they will deal with the questions by telephone and not carry out a club visit. Clearly the time taken on the above enquiries and the salaries of staff making them cannot justify the proposed fees. Even if the staff costs were trebled to include overheads they still come nowhere near the costs claimed. The Home Office is based in a very expensive part of London for office rental costs, which means higher overheads, although in view of their limited input to the process it is unlikely to make a big difference. The 'Impact Assessment' claims that the police role which involves interviews, possible club visits and report writing, currently costs £69,000 per year while the Home Office costs are claimed to be £596,000 per year for a bit of administrative support. Although limited numbers of licences are granted for Olympic and Commonwealth Games pistol shooters it is proposed that a fee of £470 will be charged for a three year licence. Firstly, the Olympic and Commonwealth Games cycles are each of four years, so a three year licence is of no use and a five year licence would be much more sensible which would bring it into line with normal FAC's.
The shooters are sponsored by British Shooting which limits the need for additional security checks on the individuals involved. There are more rigorous requirements on the storage, transport and use of pistols. None of this adds up to much additional work by the Police or Home Office. In summary please respond to the consultation right away and make sure you do it well before the 9th March deadline. Please also send a copy to your MP. Do not leave it to somebody else, encourage every club member to take part and have your say.
SPRC Newsletter Team