Firearms licensing inspections

Part of: Large-scale policing Policing on the beat

2015 inspection of firearms licensing

In May 2013, the Association of Chief Police Officers’ Firearms and Explosive Licensing Working Group invited us to inspect firearms licensing. In July 2013, the Home Secretary gave approval for us to examine how well police forces had responded to concerns raised about firearms licensing in previous reports published by us, the Independent Police Complaints Commission and the House of Commons Home Affairs Select Committee.

The final report was published in September 2015. It sets out our findings from fieldwork in 11 police forces supported by data from all 43 forces in England and Wales. Our recommendations are relevant to all police forces throughout England and Wales.

Get the report

Targeting the risk: an inspection of the efficiency and effectiveness of firearms licensing in police forces in England and Wales

Terms of reference

This inspection reviewed the efficiency and effectiveness of the arrangements in place for managing firearms licensing.

We examined how well:

  • the governance structures work for firearms licensing at a national, regional and local level;
  • the force understands and manages risk relating to firearms licensing on a 24/7 basis, including levels of awareness of firearms licensing-related risks among first responders and supervisors;
  • the force learns to improve its firearms licensing. This includes implementation of recommendation from national reports into fatal shootings by, for example, Firearms and Explosives Licensing Working Group (FELWG), Home Affairs Select Committee, HM Coroners and Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC);
  • Authorised Professional Practice and Home Office Guidance on Firearms Licensing Law (2014) is understood and applied by police officers and staff concerned with the firearms licensing process; and
  • the force engages with other organisations and groups e.g., medical professionals, licensees, special interest groups, educational establishments and the public.

Previous firearms licensing reports

Firearms licensing – 2002

The Administration of Firearms Licensing – 1993

Please note: In July 2017 HMIC took on responsibility for fire & rescue service inspections and was renamed HM Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services (HMICFRS). Inspections carried out before July 2017 may continue to refer to HMIC.