Representatives from every police force in England, Scotland and Wales attended a ,National One-Day Conference: Best Practice in Licensing Firearms for Live Quarry Shooting on 12 September 2013. The "landmark" event, which was organised and run by the National Gamekeepers' Organisation, had the support of the national lead for firearms ,and explosives licensing ,and the Home Office. It took place at JCB World Headquarters, Rocester, Staffordshire.
The conference brought together for the first time more than 160 firearms licensing experts, drawn from a mix of relevant disciplines, including over 100 police officers and civilian police staff who between them are responsible for the vast majority of firearm and shotgun certificates issued. The aim was to share ideas on best practice when licensing firearms for live quarry shooting, with the emphasis being on a consistent approach.
The daylong forum was Chaired by Andy Marsh, the Chief Constable of Hampshire Constabulary, who is the national ,lead for firearms licensing and Chair of the Firearms and Explosives Licensing Working Group (ACPO FELWG). His keynote address to conference was entitled A Fair, Effective and Efficient System - where we need to be.
The ,conference organisers hoped to inspire delegates with the idea that progress towards best practice in licensing sporting firearms is well underway, to show police forces what other forces have already achieved, to share ideas in how to improve services and how financial savings can be introduced without reducing the quality of service customers receive or compromising public safety. It was also intended to remind all those present what the law and the current (and revised) Home Office Guidance actually say.
A wide array of issues surrounding best practice on firearms licensing came under the spotlight. A packed agenda, specifically designed to maximise the benefits of an open and frank exchange of views among delegates, included topics such as: good reason, land checks, mentoring, fees, medical fitness and how live quarry shooters can help the police.
Lindsay Waddell, the Chairman of the National Gamekeepers' Organisation, said: "The conference, which was the brainchild of the NGO, was a landmark event that broke down barriers, real or imaginary. The event gave a voice to all shotgun and firearms certificate holders who shoot live quarry - irrespective of the association or membership organisation they belong to - that could be heard directly by the licensing authorities. I hope the best ideas will be enshrined in an effective best practice approach to the licensing of sporting firearms."
Mr Waddell added: "I'd like to thank Chief Constable Andy Marsh and his fellow officers at ACPO, as well as the Home Office, for being so supportive of our idea for a national conference on firearms licensing, and for throwing their combined weight so wholeheartedly behind it. I'd also like to thank all the delegates. The conference provided a unique environment, especially with attendees from every police force in England, Scotland and Wales, to grow a better understanding of the needs of all those involved in the firearms licensing process."
The Chair of the conference, Andy Marsh, the Chief Constable of Hampshire Constabulary, and the national lead for the Firearms and Explosives ,Licensing Working Group, said: ,"Firearms licensing has been the subject of much development over the last year which will continue, in line with my priorities of protecting public safety by preventing foreseeable or preventable harm, whilst delivering a cost effective and efficient licensing system and ,providing an excellent service to everyone inclusive.
"In such time of change this unique event kindly facilitated by the National Gamekeepers' Organisation has provided me with the platform and opportunity to deliver my key messages, ,expectations, and aims, whilst ,continuing to develop ,key ,relations with everyone who attended."
The NGO would like to thank JCB for its generosity in providing the venue for the conference, as well as Edgar Brothers and Blaser Sporting UK for their generous sponsorship of the event.
Photo caption: Chief Constable Andy Marsh (left) with NGO National Vice-Chairman Brian Mitchell during a break at the NGO National Conference on Best Practice in Licensing Firearms for Live Quarry Shooting, which was held at JCB World Headquarters.
Powerpoint Presentations: If you have MS Powerpoint, you will be able to view slides used by speakers during the conference to illustrate their talks. Click on the following links: