Police now following good practice
The number of temporary gun licences issued by Devon and Cornwall police to save time processing new applications and renewals has reduced.
Devon and Cornwall’s police and crime panel recently called for the high use of temporary licences to be culled and wanted it including in the commissioner’s response to a consultation on firearms being held by the government.
The 50-year-old licensing system is being reformed after an inquest found “catastrophic” failings allowed Plymouth gunman Jake Davison to possess a shotgun legally. He used it kill five people in the Keyham area of the city in August 2021.
Following the inquest, chief constable Will Kerr apologised to the families of the victims, saying he was “truly sorry” for the force’s failure to protect the public.
The force has invested more than £1 million since then to train officers in handling licence applications, and the workforce has more than doubled.
But His Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary has criticised the Devon and Cornwall Police for its improper use of temporary gun permits.
Police and crime panel member Cllr Mandy Ewings (Ind, Tavistock South West) said she was disappointed that the panel’s request was not in the commissioner’s response, as it had unanimous support.
Commissioner Alison Hernandez (Conservative) said the force had used temporary licences when it had an influx of applications but that was no longer happening and only around four are now issued on average a month.
“It’s drastically reduced,” she said. “We still have some we need to resolve, but have stopped the proactive use of temporary licences in the department.”
She explained: “It used to be normal practice, but it’s not good practice and it’s different now.”