The public in the North subsidised firearms licensing by £267,000 in 2017/18, according to a new report by the Audit Office (NIAO).
Auditor General, Kieran Donnelly, also reported this morning that a new online application regime resulted in a backlog that led to some arms holders keeping weapons without a licence.
In February 2018 there were 2,485 applications waiting for processing but this was largely cleared by July 2018, Mr. Donnelly reported.
He noted the British Association for Shooting and Conservation (BASC) had said delays had led to situations where license holder had found themselves outside the law as their licenses expired. The PSNI, however, issued ‘holding letters’ to these applicants and considered this an entirely legal and pragmatic solution. Mr. Donnelly found the service costs £1.6 million annually yet recovers only £1.3 million.
“In effect, there is a public subsidy for firearms licensing (£267,000 in 2017/18)”, he stated.