Of course, the very day AFTER I sent a somewhat ranty letter to the Minister for Police and my local MP, Steve Minikin… the long awaited for license for my son, did actually turn up in the mail. Murphy’s Law or something, that one.
But I did get a phone call from a very nice supervisor at Weapon’s Licensing Branch yesterday, who did try and tell me that they were putting processes in place to try and streamline processing times for new applications. A couple of the things she shared I thought were worth passing on with people who have landed here after Googling for information on Queensland Police Service Weapons Licensing Branch.
What everyone really wants to know is “Why is my firearms application taking so long!?” Well, that actually has a really simple answer. They are victims of, A) their own success and B) the idiocy of the average punter. A while ago, WLB implemented an online lodgement system to streamline their application processes. This convenient way of applying for your firearms license has made it much easier for people to lodge an application… however, it has inconveniently side stepped the police stations that used to receive applications and, importantly, it has side stepped the QPS officers and QPS administrative staff that used to CHECK that applications were complete BEFORE they made it to WLB. This means more and more applications are turning up at WLB that are incomplete and can not be processed. Incomplete applications are now requiring double and triple handling as Authorising Officers are going back and forth with applicants to obtain supporting documentation that should have been supplied with the original application.
Additionally, the perceived ease of lodgement situation has resulted in a 44% INCREASE in new applications over the last twelve months, but so far, (no doubt thanks the Newman Governments public service hiring policy) less than a 10% increase in staff to deal with the influx. The work unit processing new applications is seriously understaffed and the supervisor I spoke with estimates each staff member is spending up to 25% of their day fielding phone calls from disgruntled applicants. That’s right, calls to check on applications and people taking out their cranky on the poor admin staff who are trying to get on top of it, is considerably slowing down application processing times. I am guilty of this one myself (most notably in the situation where my PTA application was lost and all my personal details and firearms licensing information was in the wind), and in some circumstances it is probably warranted, but if you’ve been forewarned that there is a minimum of 10-12 weeks for processing, there is probably not much point in calling up and wasting the time they could be spending actually processing your application.
So, I guess naturally, the next question is “What is WLB doing to fix the problem?”. Well, unfortunately, it’s not as simple as what my solution would be – HIRE MORE BLOODY STAFF. It seems they are a bit hamstrung on that one, though they are continually applying pressure to the powers that be to create more positions. In the interim, they have (probably just after my son’s application was received) started to implement a triage system, whereby certain applications are being speed tracked, so as not to be held up with the backlog. Applications like Minor’s Licenses, Cat H licenses, PTA’s for existing license holders, and various other “I’ve already been vetted by your people or I am 11, so am unlikely to have a criminal history”, applications are going to the top of the queue. After that COMPLETE new applications are being processed first so as not to be delayed by incomplete applications. Literally it sounds like anything that is received incomplete is being thrown in the ‘sigh, not again’ pile.
So, next logical question “What can I do to get my application processed faster?” Well, the best thing anyone can do at the moment to try and expedite their application, is to do everything humanly possible to make sure your application is correct and complete. Double check you’ve got your ID info together, have a suitable photo attached, make sure you attach your safety induction certification, add a copy of your SSAA membership if you are a sporting shooter, or your letters of permission if you are planning on being a rural shooter, as well as any requested medical info that may need to be supplied. And then basically, do not send that sucker off until you have ticked all the boxes, dotted all the i’s and crossed all the t’s. Best suggestion if in doubt – lodge it the old fashioned way at the Police Station so that some one can check you’ve got everything in order.
And then, there’s nothing you can do to speed things up, other than wait without calling every other week to interrupt them. Good luck!