Durham Constabulary has been accused of exceeding its legal authority by demanding that firearm and shotgun certificate applicants provide and pay for a medical report from their GPs. The UK’s largest shooting organisation, the British Association for Shooting and Conservation (BASC), is advising its members that the additional requirement goes beyond the existing stipulations set out by law and in Home Office guidance on firearms licensing. The law says that any relevant medical conditions must be declared on the application form, which can then be checked by the police with the applicant’s GP. Durham Constabulary is now asking every applicant to submit a separate medical consent form and to meet any fee charged by their GP.
BASC’s director of firearms Bill Harriman said: “The new requirements offer no benefits to either applicants or to public safety; it is discriminatory against those who live in the Durham area, as those who live in adjoining force regions will not have to pay and it will increase delays in processing applications.
“Unfortunately Durham police has an appalling record for its administration of firearms licensing. It missed clear opportunities to remove guns from Michael Atherton who murdered three women before killing himself in 2012. In the ensuing enquiry Durham licensing staff claimed they were unaware of Home Office guidance on licensing, which has been published for over ten years. The force has also had problems with corrupt licensing officers selling guns to the public.
“Adding new requirements for applicants which have no legal basis will not help to reform the Constabulary’s record or performance.”