Licence fee to keep a shotgun in Devon and Cornwall set to go up

Five people in Keyham died at the hands of gunman Jake Davison in August 2021. Credit: ITV News

The licence fee to keep a shotgun in Devon and Cornwall is to go up – although it hasn’t been agreed to what level, or when.

Nearly two years after the tragic shootings in Plymouth, the rise was endorsed by members of the region’s police and crime panel as they were told of measures to reduce the risk to the public.

Earlier this year significant failings were found in the police’s handling of the initial shotgun licence given to gunman Jake Davison.

Speaking to the police and crime panel in Plymouth, police and crime commissioner Alison Hernandez, whose job it is to hold the chief constable to account, said she was assured that appropriate steps were being taken to respond to risk since the shootings.

Ms Hernandez said another £500,000 on top of £750,000 of additional funds had been invested in the force’s firearms and explosives licensing team to train offices in handling licence applications.

Staff numbers have also increased from 44 to 99.

An alliance with Dorset Police has also been scrapped so the force can concentrate on the issues it faces.

Devon and Cornwall Police manages the highest volume of firearms certificates and licences in the country – 40,000. It is claimed this is because of the rural and agricultural nature of the region.

Members of the panel raised concerns over the cost of processing licence applications and pleaded for temporary licences to be scrapped to save money.

“Temporary licences should be stopped and people should have their guns confiscated until they have the appropriate licence,” said Cllr Mandy Ewings (Ind, Tavistock South West).

Cllr Laura Wright (Lab, St Thomas, Exeter) said administrators were vital when it came to tightening up procedures but, at under £15 an hour, they were not coming into the service.

More money needed to be made from the licences to pay for the cost of issuing them, she said.

“I pay a licence fee to watch BBC which is £159 a year and I’m happy to pay this but is it right that someone can own a potentially lethal instrument for £79?”

Miss Hernandez said the £79 was not just for one year but for five years: “It’s absolutely out of kilter with public feeling. It cannot be justified that it is only that over a five-year period.

"For people who don’t use guns in their day-to-day lives, it doesn’t feel right anyway, and gun users accept it’s got to change. The licence cost has not been reviewed since 2012.”

She said that she would support a fee which was rational but was not supporting “full cost recovery” which drove inefficiencies and put the burden on the customer.

His Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary said that although Devon and Cornwall had made significant progress, concerns remained over a backlog in processing licence applications and the improper use of temporary permits.