The Countryside Alliance featured in a BBC Countryfile investigation into the failing medical procedures associated with firearms licensing. The Countryside Alliance has been at the forefront of lobbying the Government to resolve the increasingly chaotic situation, and used the broadcast to launch a Campaign for Fair and Consistent Licensing. Everyone who wants to see an effective medical procedure is now urged to head to the Alliance website and join our campaign.
New medical procedures were introduced in April 2016 following three years of collaboration between the Government, the police, the medical profession and shooting organisations including the Countryside Alliance. These measures were designed to further improve public safety and introduce the concept of effective continuous monitoring of the health of firearm and shotgun certificate holders, paving the way for 10-year certificates.
Unfortunately, within months of the publication of the agreed procedures in new Home Office Guidance, the British Medical Association (BMA) reversed their support for the protocols. The BMA began advising GP’s surgeries to charge for the initial medical records check, to which applications and renewals are now subject, having previously agreed that this check should not attract a fee.
The result has been 18 months of total chaos and confusion as GPs seek to charge a huge range of arbitrary and unregulated fees. Now certain police forces are threatening to entrench this chaos by refusing to issue licences unless these fees are paid, so the Countryside Alliance is launching a Campaign for Fair and Consistent Licensing.
It is not enough to support individual applicants or individual Police Forces. This is a systemic problem, and the Alliance is calling for a systemic solution. We are asking everyone who wants an effective medical procedure to join our campaign by signing our eLobby, which will send an email to the Home Office minister responsible for firearms licensing calling for immediate action.
Liam Stokes, Countryside Head of Shooting, said: “Countryfile effectively exposed the fundamental flaw that is threatening to collapse the medical procedures associated with firearms licensing. The spokesman from Lincolnshire Police declared that all applications and renewals will be held up until whatever fee the GP’s wish to extract is paid. This will create a postcode lottery in which an applicant in neighbouring Nottinghamshire can expect the system to operate as laid out in Home Office Guidance, whereas an applicant in Lincolnshire is subject to a random system of unregulated charges.
“At the Countryside Alliance we say this is unfair and inconsistent, and we want everyone who agrees with us to join our campaign for reform. This new Guidance is less than two years old. The Home Office needs to either find a way to enforce it, or admit it isn’t working and get all the stakeholders back around the table to agree something that works. Please head to our website and join our campaign by signing the eLobby which will send that message straight to the Home Office minister with the power to sort this mess out.”