SA police tackle licensing problems


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A new computer system is causing delays and ‘losing’ shooters’ documents, according to South Australian police, who say they are working on fixing the problems.

In a meeting last week with the Sporting Shooters Association of Australia’s South Australian branch, senior officers of the police firearms branch, including Chief Inspector Ralphs, acknowledged the problems shooters are currently encountering.

“There are issues with the new system but SAPOL [SA police] are working through them and are quite open and willing to talk to us about them,” SSAA SA president David McCarthy told members.

He told Sporting Shooter that the SSAA was able to point out some issues that the police were not yet aware of.

In fact, Mr McCarthy had encountered licensing problems first hand, so could demonstrate to the police some of the things shooters were concerned about.

“They were really good and happy to listen, and took the criticism,” he said.

SAPOL’s new system, introduced last December, requires all incoming documents to be scanned into the computer system, but staff familiarity, handwriting clarity and stringent search criteria are among reasons it is not working well. The initial change-over to the new system caused a large backlog to develop in January and February.

The SSAA was told paperwork may appear to be lost when it has been entered into the system but an officer does not accurately enter the words or phrases needed to search for it.

Delays have occurred when scanning fails because of the quality of handwriting on a shooter’s original form, which would then be put aside until the information can be manually entered into the system.

Police reminded shooters that even if everything went to plan for a new licence application, the background checking process can still take six to eight weeks.

Shooters have had interim licences expire before their photographic licence is issued, but Chief Inspector Ralphs told the SSAA SAPOL would not penalise shooters as a result of these delays.

“Chief Inspector Ralphs assured us that if you have paid your money, have your interim licence you would not have any issues with SAPOL,” Mr McCarthy said. “He also suggested that you continue to carry your expired photographic licence with you until you receive your new one.”

Police said it was not yet possible to implement an online system for licensing but that they intended to make this happen in the future.

A full summary of the SSAA SA’s meeting with SAPOL is on the branch website.


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Mick Matheson

Mick grew up with guns and journalism, and has included both in his career. A life-long hunter, he has long-distant military experience and holds licence categories A, B and H. In the glory days of print media, he edited six national magazines in total, and has written about, photographed and filmed firearms and hunting for more than 15 years.

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