CENTRAL Devon MP Mel Stride says police are ‘working very hard’ to tackle the backlog of firearms licence applications. 

Mr Stride, who is Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, received a briefing from Devon and Cornwall Police on their progress in tackling the backlog of firearms licence applications.

In the aftermath of the tragic fatal shooting in Plymouth in 2021, where 22-year-old Jake Davison shot and killed five people and injured two others before fatally shooting himself, the force has introduced a new management structure, hired more staff and delivered extensive training. 

More rigorous vetting of applicants has led to an increase in the refusal rate to around seven per cent - double the national average.

After being contacted by constituents who were concerned about delays in getting licences, in many cases for professional reasons, Mr Stride spoke to the force. 

After contacting Inspector Joanne Simms, Mr Stride said: 'Devon and Cornwall Police has rightly taken several steps since 2021 to strengthen their firearms unit. 

‘They now have more staff, better training, and more efficient processes in place, while also carrying out deeper background checks. 

‘The team is working hard to tackle the backlog of licence applications as quickly as possible without compromising public safety but this is an issue that I will be keeping a very close eye on.’

Devon and Cornwall Police handles more gun licence applications than any other force in England and Wales.