Government to ban police from issuing firearms licences without GP input

The police will be unable to issue firearms licences until they have received medical information about an applicant from their GP, under reforms proposed by the government.

Firearms licence changes (Photo: Alex Sharp/Getty Images)
Firearms licence changes (Photo: Alex Sharp/Getty Images)

Proposed changes to firearms rules, set out in a government consultation, make clear that responsibility for obtaining and checking medical information about applicants for a licence will sit with the police.

GPs will be able to charge for providing information for a firearms licence application, and a risk assessment published by the DHSC says the changes could mean GP practices receive around £43m per year across England, Scotland and Wales for their role in the process.

The average fee currently charged by GP practices for supplying medical information for a firearms application across Britain is estimated at £51.

Firearms rules

Under plans put forward by the government, guidance will be updated to say that 'the police should not grant certificates in the absence of medical information and the police will be under a duty to have regard to the guidance'.

The risk assessment adds: 'The intended effect is that the police grant firearms certificates only after consideration of medical information. The objective is to reduce the risk that unsuitable individuals possess firearms and therefore improve public safety.'

Under current rules, some firearms licences are awarded without any information about whether an applicant is considered medically fit to hold one. This is because where GPs do not respond to a request for information from the police, 'often police assume there is no medical condition'.

In Scotland, however, where the police are already required to obtain medical information before issuing a licence, 97% of GP practices are reported to comply with requests for information - compared with a lower proportion in England.

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