Gun permit applications rising in Cambridgeshire amid concerns taxpayers are ‘subsidising’ firearms licences
More people are applying for gun licences in Cambridgeshire, with police across the country warning background checks are draining their resources.
The latest Home Office figures show that 731 people applied for a new firearms licence or renewed an old permit in the 12 months to March 2018 in Cambridgeshire. This is compared to 581 applications three years earlier.
Of those, Cambridgeshire Constabulary passed 161 new gun licences and renewed 570.
Research carried out by West Midlands Police estimates England and Wales police forces will lose £10 million 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 Cambridgeshire Constabulary received £49,500 in fees in 2017-18, up from £40,200 in 2014-15.
In March 2018, there were 3,022 firearms permits in Cambridgeshire, covering 10,181 guns.
That's an average of three firearms per certificate. 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."
Gill Marshall-Andrews, of the Gun Control Network, said with the current fees, police and taxpayers are "subsidising" shooters.
She added: "What we need is a licence for every gun, with the fee set at £200 and renewable every two years.
"If shooters can spend £1,000 for a day's shooting and champagne they can certainly afford to pay more to licence their guns."
In March 2018, there were 157,600 licences across England and Wales, covering 577,500 guns.
The British Association for Shooting and Conservation said the claim that police were subsidising licensing "has no basis in fact".