Gun owners are to see a sharp increase in the cost of their licences after government ministers announced a new charging regime aimed at ending taxpayer subsidies.
In London the Met has spent around £20m on issuing licenses since 2008 but has only been able to recover £1.5 million from applicants because the fees it charges have been frozen since 2001.
Ministers have now agreed to raise the fees “to enable police forces to achieve full cost recovery” once a new online licensing system currently in development is launched.
As a result, the cost of a new firearms certificate will rise from £50 to £88 while the cost of a shotgun certificate will increase to £79.50, up from £50.
Renewals will also increase from £40 to £62 for a firearms certificate and £49 for a shotgun certificate.
Minister for Crime Prevention Lynne Featherstone said: “The increase in fees and the introduction of online licensing will end what is currently an unsustainable process for the police and will create a fairer and more effective system for forces, licence holders and the general public.”
The increase has been welcomed by Caroline Pidgeon, leader of the Liberal Democrat group on the London Assembly who has previously called for an end to “subsidised” licences.
She said: “Modernising the licence fee system and increasing the charges are long overdue. The changes enshrine the basic principle that people who wish to own a firearm should pay the full cost of the licensing system.
“Most importantly the changes will put an end to a serious drain on the Met’s resources. It is simply wrong that for so long the Met has been subsidising owners of firearms.”
Ms Pidgeon also criticised Mayor Boris Johnson for not taking part in a Home Office consultation on the increase, saying: “These changes are also another example of where the Mayor has been exposed as being on the wrong side of an issue.
“Police and Crime Commissioners from around the country have been lobbying for these changes for many years, yet the Mayor has surprisingly been quiet on the issue and even refused to respond to the recent Home Office consultation.”