Firearms licensing

2015 inspection of firearms licensing

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

Get the press release

Firearms licensing missing the mark

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 including implementation of recommendations from national reports into fatal shootings by, for example, Firearms and Explosives Licensing Working Group (FELWG), Home Affairs Select Committee, Her Majesty’s 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 stakeholders 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