Shared firearms licensing unit to be split into separate force units

The firearms licensing unit shared between Devon and Cornwall Police and Dorset Police will be realigned into separate units for each force, it has been announced.

Jun 6, 2023
By Paul Jacques
Dorset PCC David Sidwick

Following an extensive review, including a public survey, the decision has been made by the chief constables and police and crime commissioners (PCCs) to separate the Alliance Firearms, Explosives and Licensing Unit (FELU) into a unit for each force area.

The PCCs say the unit, formed in March 2015 from licensing departments in each force, has faced numerous challenges in recent years. There have been ongoing delays to the issuing of firearms licences, and alongside the significant changes in statutory guidance in firearms regulation over the last 18 months, the long-term impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic and the impact of the tragic events in Keyham in Devon, a decision was taken to de-align the service and to return to having two separate licensing units.

There have been ongoing delays to the issuing of firearms licences and alongside the significant changes in statutory guidance in firearms regulation over the last 18 months; the long-term impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic and the impact of the tragic events in Keyham in Devon, a decision was taken to de-align the service and to return to having two separate licensing units.

Dorset PCC David Sidwick said: “I wish to thank the people of Dorset who contributed to the survey, which we conducted with the British Association for Shooting and Conservation in the autumn of last year.

“The outcome of that survey, gave a clear indication that the people who took part wanted firearms licensing to return to Dorset. That allowed me to make a strong representation from the community and align with operational advantages that will drive a better service.

“This change, which will take place this autumn, will bring about greater local control and accountability, and more flexibility to deal with the needs of local communities.

“Both I and the chief constable believe that bringing back separate units will result in an improved service to the Dorset public and businesses.

Alison Hernandez, PCC for Devon, Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly, added: “I would like to thank all those who took the time to give us their views via the survey.

“It gave us a clear indication there was a desire for dedicated firearms licensing units for each force. That allowed me to make a strong representation from the community and align with operational advantages that will drive a better service.”

At present, work continues on clearing the overdue licence and certificate renewals and grants, said the PCCs.

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