Do I have to pay the GP’s invoice?
The Medical Evidence Working Group, comprised of shooting organisations, the Home Office, Police, the British Medical Association and the Royal College of GPs, agreed through Guidance that there should be ‘no expectation of a fee’ for the initial records check carried out by the GP on receipt of a letter from the police. If a medical condition is disclosed by the applicant or flagged up by the GP, then a medical report might be required by the police, payable by the applicant. If further detailed medical advice is required by the police (eg from a consultant), then the police will pay for this. The Countryside Alliance advises members not to pay a fee for an initial records check by the GP, and to refer the GP to published Home Office guidance. If the Police do not hear back from the designated GP surgery within 21 days they are expected to assume that there is no medical condition of concern, unless otherwise stated on the firearms licensing form, and to move forward with the application.
I live in Scotland and am told that I must pay a fee to my GP?
Police Scotland are governed by different operating procedures from those in England & Wales. They are disregarding the Home Office Guidance and are not moving forward with the certificate until they hear from the surgery. Most Scottish shooters are thus obliged to pay a fee.
My English/Welsh firearms licensing department has said that it will not process my application unless they receive a response from my GP. Should I pay my GP?
Your police force is in clear breach of agreed procedure. You should contact the Countryside Alliance for advice.
What happens if my GP surgery is not willing to take part in the procedure?
If your GP is claiming a conscientious objection to gun ownership, then he or she should ask another GP within the practice to make the checks. Where all GPs within the practice decide not to participate, it will be necessary to sign up to another surgery or go private. The police firearms licensing department will be able to help you in this situation.
With police forces disregarding the Home Office Guidance and GP surgeries ignoring the Medical Evidence Working Group agreement has the risk to public safety increased?
The correct application of continuous monitoring will create safeguards which will enhance public safety. Whilst the current process is failing there is no increased risk to public safety, instead the levels have simply returned to pre-April 1 2016 when these measures were introduced.
Is there a working solution for continuous monitoring?
The Countryside Alliance supports a firearms licensing system that involves continuous monitoring, in the form of a marker on the applicants’ records, by the medical profession. It is acknowledged that this should enable the granting of a longer term (ie. 10 year) certificate. We believe all stakeholders need to come together to find a way to make this process work and the Countryside Alliance will work to ensure that the working solution is a fair deal for the shooting community and continues to enhance public safety.
What is the Countryside Alliance’s view on the BMA allowing surgeries to claim a conscientious objection to gun ownership?
The Countryside Alliance rejects the BMA position on conscientious objection. We believe it represents a dangerous departure from the BMA’s own code of employment ethics and sets an awkward precedent for the BMA. The Countryside Alliance has written to the BMA, and will continue to do so until the situation is resolved.
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