The relationship between shooters and doctors is under the spotlight again after a letter extorting money from a firearms licence applicant was exposed.
A Lincolnshire GP demanded £90 for the basic medical check the Home Office now recommends for all certificate applicants, which is supposed to be free unless further investigation is required.
Furthermore, the GP said that if they didn’t get the money, they would tell the police to “assume that you have a condition which would prevent you from holding a licence.” This contravenes Home Office guidance, which is that licensing officers should assume there are no issues if they do not hear from a GP in 21 days.
After investigations by BASC and the Countryside Alliance, the surgery in question backed down from its demands. But it emerged that it wasn’t working alone – it was following advice from its local medical committee, using a template available to all GPs.
BASC has reported the practice and the LMC to the Fitness to Practice Directorate of the General Medical Council, and has also requested an urgent meeting with Assistant Chief Constable Dave Orford, the national police lead on firearms licensing.
Paul Dale, manager of BASC’s firearms team, said: “It appears the LMC and Lincolnshire Police are determined to continue operating outside the Home Office guidance on firearms licensing, which provides a national framework for processing applications and renewals.
“This stance is wholly against Home Office guidance and is out-with the recommendations of ACC Orford. It is of grave concern to BASC that Lincolnshire Police are considering introducing a non- statutory process into the firearm licensing regime. We have written to the Home Office to ask that the Medical Evidence Working Group is reconvened so that these serious issues can be addressed.”
A Countryside Alliance spokesperson, meanwhile, said that it “cannot be right that applicants in Lincolnshire are charged for a service that is provided for free in all surrounding counties.”
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