The Lincolnshire Police Firearms Licensing department remains as one of the top performing forces nationally. We are pleased to be able to deliver a quality and expeditious service to the county's gun owners. The efficiency of our service provision is significantly enhanced by the implementation of the Firearms Licensing Online (FLO) system which has now been in place for over four years.
A survey carried out last year amongst randomly selected certificate holders provided some very pleasing results for the department.
Contacting Firearm Licensing - receiving an acknowledgment (in 24 hours) 97%
Reason or purpose for contacting Firearm Licensing - issues resolved 100%
Lincolnshire has in the region of 16,000 shotgun & firearms certificate holders living in the county, who between them hold around 60,000 guns. It is, therefore, vitally important that Lincolnshire Police manage both certificate holders and their security arrangements to a very high standard.
Not only do we want to provide a quality service to our certificate holders, but we have a duty to protect the entire public of Lincolnshire by ensuring that certificate holders are medically fit and suitable to possess and have independent access to guns. All applicants must provide a medical report from their GP before a Lincolnshire licence will be issued and a new addition to the vetting process means Lincolnshire now requires all applicants to provide referees who must complete and return a referee nomination questionnaire before a licence will be issued or renewed.
Security of guns and ammunition is also paramount, and we do have varying levels of security depending on the certificate holder’s circumstances and guns held to adhere to. The security levels are in line with Home Office guidance. Lincolnshire require high standards for security, in the majority of cases this will include the use of an alarm, to target harden properties and reduce the threat and risk of legally held firearms being stolen and getting into illegal possession.
It is regrettably part of life that crime exists, and burglaries where gun cabinets are targeted do unfortunately occur. Although the number of incidents remains relatively low in the county, we have suffered burglaries where firearms were stolen.
Despite the importance surrounding gun security we have seen several incidents where certificate holders have been clearly negligent and left their guns insecure or in vehicles for no good reason where they have been stolen. This is totally unacceptable and not only puts the public at risk by allowing a legally held weapon to fall into the hands of and potentially be used by criminals this can also have devastating negative effects on the shooting community, destroying the good reputation that has been built upon in partnership with Firearms Licensing.
In these circumstances Lincolnshire Police has a zero-tolerance approach and certificate holders who blatantly breach security requirements or have a gun stolen because of their negligence, have or will have, their licence revoked and face the possibility of prosecution.
Detective Inspector Mike Alford, Head of Firearms Licensing, Lincolnshire Police, said: "All these measures are in place to ensure Lincolnshire and its communities remain one of the safest counties to live, work or visit. The Firearms Licensing Department do recognise the importance of shooting for both work or pleasure purposes. There is never any intention to restrict either of these activities, but we must ensure that it is done safely and responsibly with public safety at the forefront of decisions made as to who can legally possess a firearm in Lincolnshire.
"The Firearm Licensing Department will be at a number of county shows this summer and look forward to meeting the community at these events."
The Firearm Licensing phone lines are open Monday to Thursday 10.30 am to 3.30 pm and Friday 10.30 am to 2 pm. Please dial 01522 558533 (Direct dial).