Changes to Firearms applications and renewals

Information notice – Changes to Medical Information – Firearms

You are now required to provide medical information verified by a GP for all firearm and shotgun applications – this includes renewals. This applies to any application, whether declaring a medical condition or not. The change is being implemented to enable the Police to make informed decisions which will protect both the shooting community and the wider public. The change will mean a consistent and fair process for all applicants, and will assist in improving application processing times. The fact you have a condition may not necessarily mean your application is refused. However, a false declaration could result in your prosecution, or your application being refused, or your existing license being revoked and your firearms or shotguns being seized.

This change will affect any application submitted from 1st August 2019.

FAQs

When will this new medical process start?

The introduction of a pre application medical screening will come into effect on 1st August 2019.

What does this mean for you, the applicant?

On applying for the grant or renewal of a firearm/shot gun/RFD application (online or paper) all applicants will be required to submit with their application a completed GP pro forma that has been agreed between Thames Valley Police and the Berkshire, Buckinghamshire & Oxfordshire Local Medical Committees (LMCs). This pro forma can be found on the Thames Valley Police website or can be obtained direct from your GP.

Who contacts my GP?

Applicants will be responsible for contacting their GP for this information.

What happens if I do not submit the pre medical screening information?

Applications received without the applicant’s medical information (GP pro forma) will be returned to the applicant with a request to submit this information. If the application is received again without this supporting documentation the application may be refused.

Why are Thames Valley Police implementing this change in policy?

The Firearms Act 1968 (as amended) and Home Office Guidance states that before granting or renewing a firearm/shot gun certificate the Chief Officer of Police needs to be satisfied that applicants can be permitted to have the firearm(s)/shot guns/ammunition without danger to the public safety or to the peace. Details that are required in order to make an informed decision on an applicant’s suitability, includes information relating to their medical history.

The current medical process in place may leave a substantial gap in the available information and intelligence assessed at the point of grant or renewal. Medical evidence is pivotal to police decision making.

The introduction of a pre application medical screening will ensure that the firearms licensing department has all the relevant available information as to the suitability of the applicant prior to grant or renewal. This will help to mitigate risk as far as reasonably practicable. This single process will also make the process more streamlined and quicker for applicants, as the police will no longer have to contact the GP and await a reply.

Why is Thames Valley Police not complying with Home Office Guidance on this matter?

Whilst Home Office Guidance is intended to assist with consistency of practice between forces it is Chief Officers who are ultimately responsible for the administration of firearms licensing in their force area. Home Office Guidance acknowledges this and understands that it may be necessary for forces to depart from the guidance when each case is assessed on its merits and the circumstances justify such a course of action. Home Office Guidance also has no statutory footing and our legal advice is that if harm was done as a result of the police issuing a certificate the responsibility for failing to properly manage the risk, would from a legal perspective, fall to the police.

Will there be a fee from my GP?

Guidance from the BMA and LMC is very clear that this type of work falls outside of the NHS remit and as such surgeries will request a fee from the applicant.

Message Sent By
Zoe Powderly (Police, Manager, Firearms Licensing )