Recent SAPOL Meeting
To SSAA SA Members,
Today (Friday 25/5/12) I attended a meeting with Chief Inspector Ralphs and A/S/Sgt Gibson from Firearms Branch. We discussed various issues relating to SAPOL policy and also the processing of paper work through the department.
Some of the issues we had were as follows:
1) The apparent loss of paperwork in Firearms Branch.
2) The delay in processing forms such as Permit to Acquires.
3) The delays in processing new licence applications.
4) The expiry of interim licences before new photographic licences arrive.
5) We also discussed the possibility of submitting some of the paperwork online.
6) The requirement for club nominees to fill in additional paperwork when witnessing transfers of firearms.
The following are the brief answers to the questions:
1) SAPOL Firearms branch are now using a new computer system that was introduced in December 2011. When any document is submitted to F/Arms branch it is scanned into the new system. Problems can arise within the new system. For example, when an officer does a search. If they do not type the exact criteria for the search they sometimes do not get the search results they are looking for.
As this is a new system, the staff are gradually becoming more familiar with it’s operation, and as time goes on their efficiency will improve with each week of use.
Once a document is scanned it is permanently on the system and will remain there virtually forever. Therefore in theory paperwork can’t be lost once scanned.
2) Permits to acquire as stated previously are scanned into the new system. Issues may arise if the person filling in the PTA fills it in by hand. The automated scanning process may reject the form if illegible. The easy answer to this is to fill the PTA in on the PDF form supplied online and then print it and send it in. This form can be found at HERE the form number is PD306. If a person must handwrite the form then use Black pen, neat Block letters and only put 1 character in per box. This will ensure that the scanning process can proceed without human intervention.
The issue of handwriting on forms is also one of the major contributing factors for the apparent loss of paperwork, when the form is rejected by the automated process it is put into a pile for manual entry.
3) The delay in processing new licence applications is put down to a couple of factors:
The first is the delay of local Police Stations in forwarding the paperwork.
The second is entering into the system. As previously stated handwritten forms sometimes are rejected by the automated process and require manual entry.
Next is the checking of an applicant’s suitability to hold a firearms licence, if everything works as it is supposed to the police say that it will take a few weeks to get through the checking system.
Firearms Branch is of the opinion that a delay of 6-8 weeks is what is to be expected.
4) We discussed the issue of a person’s interim licence expiring before the new photographic licence arrives. Chief Inspector Ralphs assured us that if you have paid your money, have your interim licence you would not have any issues with SAPOL. He also suggested that you continue to carry your expired photographic licence with you until you receive your new one.
5) We bought up the issue of submitting forms online and were told that this is a goal they are working towards. There are infrastructure issues that are being addressed and in time we may be able to submit some forms online.
6) We also discussed the requirement of club nominees to fill in a PD309 when witnessing transfers. Firearms branch maintain that they use this form as a cross reference to keep track of who has transferred firearms. They maintain that it is a necessary form and require one to be filled in with each transfer of a firearm. The Nominee is also to keep a copy of this form for three years. This is one of the forms that will be looked at for submitting online.
There are issues with the new system but SAPOL are working through them and are quite open and willing to talk to us about them. I suggest that if you have issues please let me know about them so I can bring them up with SAPOL next time we meet.
President SSAA SA
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