Updated firearms licensing guidance emphasises importance of public safety

Updated guidance around firearms licensing highlights the importance of public safety and aims to encourage consistency when granting and improving firearms licences across England and Wales. 

This updated firearms licensing guidance has been designed by College of Policing to complement the Home Office statutory guidance for members of the public applying for firearms licences. It offers guidance to firearms licensing officers and staff around conducting suitability assessments of license applicants and holders and making appropriate decisions that reflect public safety as a priority.   

By setting standards for officers and staff who are considering firearms licensing applications, this guidance will encourage consistency as well as ensuring fair and safe assessment of applications and enforcement of the law.  

The updated guidance assists officers and staff with information about:  

  • roles and responsibilities of those within policing who work in firearms licensing, from chief constables to Firearms licensing administrators and caseworkers.  
  • The processes and procedures that should be followed in making decisions as to whether to grant a firearms licence  
  • Effective planning, resourcing and running of Firearms licensing teams  

The guidance will inform national training for firearms licensing staff which is currently being developed. 

David Tucker, College of Policing head of crime, said: “It’s important to stress the impartiality of police forces when assessing suitability and making decisions on whether it is deemed safe to grant or renew a licence to members of the public allowing them to possess a firearm.  

“When used unlawfully, firearms pose an incredibly serious threat to our communities. 

“The police have a duty to protect the public from all crimes which includes the potential misuse of legal firearms. Therefore, it’s important that our firearms licensing teams work to consistent standards and use guidance to assist them with assessing suitability, making decisions and enforcing the law.” 

Chief Constable Debbie Tedds, National Police Chiefs’ Council lead for firearms licensing and explosives, said: “The strengthening of the Authorised Professional Practice (APP), which provides national standards for all firearms licensing units, will provide the consistency required across policing when granting or renewing licences.  

“There have been a number of changes and developments to support greater consistency within Firearms Licensing Units across the country.  We welcomed the new statutory guidance for firearms licensing from the Home Office which enhances the already extensive checks undertaken to help ensure only those who are deemed suitable to carry a firearms licence will receive one. The need for medical records to be viewed by officers carrying out the licensing check, is something policing has been encouraging for many years and have been utilising as part of the Home Office scheme. Working with the College of Policing the development of national training for firearms licensing managers has begun and we look forward to this being rolled out next year.” 

Contact Information

College Press Office

College of Policing

020 3837 0435