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Since 1 April 2016, the General Practitioners (GPs) form has been a requirement to be completed when applying for either the grant or renewal of a firearm or shotgun certificate.

Medcert

Born out of several critical incident reviews when certificate holders used their guns to commit homicides, the initial view was that the GP forms would only be required once when thereafter there would be a marker placed against a certificate holders GP record which would be activated if there was a public safety concern. It was also recognised that there would be no expectation of a fee.

In Scotland, it became a requirement to have the GP form completed and having now passed the five-year mark, every certificate holder should have a marker. The system in Scotland worked well, with only a dozen or so GP practices out of over 1000 not engaging. Most English and Welsh forces did not apply the same criteria and consequently the process there fell into disrepute, with widely varying demands and expectations.

The Home Office are currently finalising the statutory guidance in respect of suitability assessment, and we await a final decision in relation to the frequency of GP reports i.e. will it remain a one off or will it be expected at every renewal.

One of the most contentious aspects of the GP process was the fees being charged by individual GP practices. Whilst the average is recognised as £40, as small number of GP practices, for whatever reason, decided to charge exorbitant fees. MedCert now offer a recognised alternative to the supply of the relevant medical information to the police.

Their report is a review of your medical records, to assess whether you have any conditions that might prevent you from holding or retaining a firearms or shotgun certificate. This check must be conducted by a qualified medical professional, to the specifications of your individual firearms licensing authority, and the check should only be a factual summary of your history – never a statement of the reviewer’s opinion or reflection of personal bias. It remains the case that the police are the only decision makers in respect of whether someone is suitable to either be granted or continue to hold a certificate.

MedCert exists to ensure that everyone can get a medical check for an affordable price. If you are worried about your certificate application being held up by your GP, or the prospect of facing what in some rare cases is a three-figure fee, MedCert (medcert.co.uk) can provide a secure and efficient alternative.

For further information please call the office at SACS, 01350 724228 or alternatively, call Medcert at 020 8063 4503. A discount for SACS members is available.