Manchester seeks tech partner to digitise thousands of firearms licensing documents

Local authority and police issue joint tender inviting bids from firms that could fulfil requirement to convert paper files to electronic formats and, ultimately, deliver digital methods of processing information

Local government and police in Manchester are planning to digitise the processes through which citizens and organisations can apply for licences to own firearms.

The transformation exercise will begin with the conversion of thousands of existing paper files into electronic formats, according to a new commercial notice jointly issued by Greater Manchester Combined Authority and Greater Manchester Police.

“We currently have approximately 9,000 live paper files plus containing various kinds of documentation, including applications, reports, certificates, and photographs,” it said. “These are to be weeded then scanned and stored electronically as a back record conversion.”

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In the future, the Mancunian authorities intend that all newly created documents will, at least, have a scanned digital version. In the longer term, the aim is to move towards a fully digital system allowing officials to update information using mobile devices.

“Moving forward hard copy documents such as postal applications will be scanned and placed in a library system enabling easy access to various kinds of documents,” the notice said. “Electronic files such as reports will be entered onto the system. In the future we are hopeful that applications, visit sheets etc will be electronic allowing officers to update remotely. This documentation will include personal data.”

To support this process of digitisation, the council and police force are seeking to appoint a specialist supplier to a five-year deal, scheduled to commence in December. The authorities did not specify a value for the contract – for which bids are open until 25 September.

Recently published Home Office statistics reveal that, as of 31 March 2023, there were 147,140 active firearms certificates on issue across England and Wales – in addition to a 500,894 certificates for shotgun ownership.

To apply for a firearms licence individuals or businesses typically need to obtain a form from their local police force.

Sam Trendall

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