Select Committee on Home Affairs Appendices to the Minutes of Evidence


Letter from HM Inspector of Constabulary to the Clerk of the Committee


  Thank you for your letter of 11 November and for the opportunity to outline HMIC's inspection arrangements in relation to the administration and control of firearms.

  Under current arrangements, the inspection of forces throughout England and Wales involves a series of preparatory visits, culminating in a formal on-site inspection by one of Her Majesty's Inspectors. The administration and control of firearms is routinely included in every inspection and the process includes interviews with key personnel and a detailed examination of data and policy documents. The findings of the inspection, together with any recommendations, are then made known to the Force and the Police Authority by way of a formal report.

  The emergence of "Best Value" and the introduction of annual efficiency targets from April 2000 will, however, necessitate significant changes to the current inspection process. The cycle of inspection will be reduced from 18 to 12 months and will be shaped around a series of detailed protocols. These protocols will be closely linked to a diagnostic model which should provide a more accurate focus for future inspection activity. The new inspection model will include protocols which specifically address the administration and control of firearms. These are currently being prepared by HMIC and it is anticipated they will be completed by the end of December, however it would seem sensible to delay their finalisation in order to take account of the Committee's findings.

  The complexity of firearms legislation has led to most forces appointing full time staff dedicated to licensing issues. Whilst their procedural knowledge is often commendable, in some cases they have become increasingly isolated and, without adequate strategic direction and close monitoring by chief officers, they often operate to their own individual standards; this in turn leads to an inconsistency across forces. It is intended these issues will be addressed by the introduction of the new protocols.

  I hope the above information is helpful but, if I can be of any further assistance, please do not hesitate to contact me.

Colin Smith CVO CBE QPM

HM Inspector of Constabulary

26 November 1999

previous page contents next page

House of Commons home page Parliament home page House of Lords home page search page enquiries index

© Parliamentary copyright 2000
Prepared 13 April 2000