15 June 2023

A project to clear thousands of dated firearms licence applications has successfully concluded with the average age of the remaining licence applications now slashed, says Te Tari Pūreke – Firearms Safety Authority.

In mid-2022 Te Tari Pūreke ringfenced 5701 aged applications into what it called its ‘Pipeline Reduction Project’. In addition, a further 1508 aged applications were prioritised by its network of district staff. All of these historical applications have now been processed and resolved.

At the same time, Te Tari Pūreke has managed to slash the average age of the applications it is working on and been able to halve the overall number of applications it is managing at a given time.

“In mid-2022 when we began the Pipeline Reduction Project, the average age of an application in the licensing system was 222 days or over 7 months. Today, the average age of an application is currently 70 days – under 3 months,” says Te Tari Pūreke Executive Director Angela Brazier.

The improvement in licencing performance is even starker when looking at the median age of all files on hand says Ms Brazier. The median has fallen from 152 days in July 2022, to just 41 days today.

“Finishing the Pipeline Reduction Project is an important milestone,” Ms Brazier says. “We recognise that the wait for firearms licence applications to be processed was too long, and the very real frustration this caused the licenced firearms community.”

Several factors contributed to firearms licence applications being delayed, including a review of licensing processes in the wake of the 15 March 2019 Christchurch masjidain attack; COVID-19 preventing vetting staff making visits to licence applicants; combined with an increase in demand for licences as many expired at the same time.

“Getting on top of this backlog is a first step, and we hope a signal that under Te Tari Pūreke firearms licensing systems will be more responsive and effective,” she says.

To get on top of the firearms licensing backlog, Te Tari Pūreke set up a dedicated Historical File Support Team, solely focused on clearing the backlog of applications. This included vetting staff who could visit applicants, next of kin, and referees – all required to complete a licence application.

Ms Brazier says new and renewal licence applications are constantly flowing in, so there is never a moment you reach zero. However, the service improvements made are making the overall workload more manageable.

At the time the Pipeline Reduction Project began in mid-2022, Te Tari Pūreke had a total of 11,096 firearms licence applications for processing. Today this application caseload had dropped to 5403 – an overall 51.3% reduction.

“In mid-2022 around 71% of the applications waiting to be processed were at least 90 days old.

“We’ve really turned that picture on its head. Today, 81% of all applications in the system are under 90 days old. By the end of this year, I want this number to be 100%,” says Ms Brazier.

Te Tari Pūreke are further strengthening licence processes by introducing a ‘Targeted Renewal Approach’ which uses data and insight from within the firearms system to better match licensing resources with identified risks, which was one of the recommendations the Royal Commission of Inquiry into the terrorist attack on Christchurch masjidain.


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