Shooters will have to pay for police medical reports from April

Your NHS medical records will be marked forever if you hold a firearm or shotgun certificate, according to new information released this week about how medical information will be used to surveil shooters.

The document detailing the changes also revealed that shooters will be expected to pay for routine medical reports, which police will demand with every grant and renewal of a certificate starting this April.

Released by West Mercia Police, the document – which appears to be an annex to further changes which have not yet made public – is available on their website. UK Shooting News has taken the precaution of backing it up here (PDF), in case it goes walkabout later on.

The document does not mention any cap on the level of payments GPs will be able to demand from shooters. In terms of information security and preventing this information from getting into the wrong hands, it states: “Due care will be exercised by GP practices in relation to information about firearms in the same way that sensitive medical information is handled.”

The lifetime marker on your medical record is explicitly to “enable the GP to discuss the issue with the patient and if necessary inform the police,” if, in the doctor’s opinion, they think you shouldn’t have access to firearms. If you give up your certificate, the marker will be “inactivated”, which the document makes clear does not mean it will be removed.

A list of qualifying medical conditions has been included for the first time, however. Some of these include depression, “acute stress reaction from trauma”, psychotic illnesses, neurological conditions including multiple sclerosis, and “any other mental or physical condition which might affect your safe possession of firearms or shotguns.”

UK Shooting News is aware of a recent case where an elderly shotgun certificate holder had his gun (singular) confiscated by a “threatening and aggressive” WPC (in the certificate holder’s daughter’s words) because – incredibly – his police force had independently decided he was “at risk” of developing dementia.

Police forces are, according to this document, supposed to pay for further medical reports if the first one, funded by the certificate holder, turns up something which they want more information about.

The document also states that changes will take place to the Guidance on Firearms Law and to the application for grant and renewal forms. It is unknown what other changes will be made to the guidance.

UKSN comment: This is horrendous. Nobody will do anything, though

Doubtless I’ll see the usual outbreak of people around the web insisting that this is perfectly acceptable (“nothing to hide, nothing to fear”) or even that I’ve forged it and made it up for blog traffic. Take it or leave it; even British shooters no longer believe what the police and the government get up to.

It’s strange to see that people from countries other than the UK are routinely horrified by the excesses of the British system, while Brits tend to be split 70-30 in favour of the latest privacy-busting wheeze.

As for the scheme itself: we, as a community, must now face up to a future where we simply cannot rely on security through obscurity. You must assume that your neighbours and other locals will become aware that you have firearms stored at home. You cannot trust that a minimum wage receptionist, who may even be temporary or agency staff and who is not subject to any vetting – unlike us – will not remember or make a note of this sort of information as it becomes available to them.

There is a world of difference between knowing that Joe Bloggs has colon cancer and that Joe Bloggs owns one or more firearms; it doesn’t take the brains of a rocket scientist to figure out which of these is the more valuable information in the wrong hands.

The worst part is that nowhere in this process, beyond the “I am not insane” report that you must suffer the indignity of paying for, are you notified that the police are thumbing through your files, or that your GP surgery has started sending extra information about you to the police: the opportunity for you to raise objections, examine the accuracy of data passed on, or otherwise be in control of your personal data has been neatly removed from this system by design. How can you report a breach of the Data Protection Act, or other laws, to the Information Commissioner if you don’t even know when your data is being processed?

Moreover, the failure of the shooting organisations who agreed this stuff on our behalf to have a cap imposed on doctors’ fees now means shooters will be subject to a postcode lottery – a tax on shooting – determined entirely by individual medics’ personal whims. Once again, this raises the barriers of entry and means only the well-off will be able to afford to take up or continue shooting outside of the club environment, a fact that certainly won’t have been lost on the police.

With the BMA doctors’ trade union becoming increasingly militant over its payrise demands, can you trust that your local GP won’t see you as a cash cow to be milked, safe in the knowledge that you simply do not have the option of saying “no” to his demands for money if you want to continue your hobby? Can you trust that your doctor – who you may only see once every few years – does not oppose shooting on ideological grounds and won’t use this as an opportunity to have you disarmed? Again, UKSN is aware of at least one case up north (relating to an applicant with an autism spectrum diagnosis) where a doctor has successfully managed to do that very thing.

The last part of this puzzle is that many shooters will quietly decide that qualified medical help is no longer an option of first resort except in life-threatening cases. Those who can afford it will take out private medical insurance and withdraw from the NHS, placing an extra hurdle in the way of police looking for information. Why take the gamble of telling your GP, or a mental health professional, that you’re feeling a bit down if that could end up summarised on your file as “depression”, triggering a certificate revocation which could cost £15,000 or moreto fight in court? If you, like the vast majority of the British population, ignore the farcical “no safe limit for drinking” official alcohol guidelines, does that make you an “alcohol abuser” – who may only discover that diagnosis when armed police turn up at 6am to empty your cabinets?

In a world where authorities routinely ignore people’s privacy, dignity and autonomy, people will reduce the amount they engage with the authorities to the bare minimum. This is a dangerous move that ultimately drives a wedge not only between the police and the licensed firearms community but also between the community and the medical profession.

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20 thoughts on “Shooters will have to pay for police medical reports from April

  1. Colin jenkins

    Can you imagine, any inner-city GP understanding there is no correlation between a FAC holders firearms in his area and the gun crime going on down the road – this is a licence for GP’s to destroy the shooting sports in the UK.

    It’s like asking the vegan society to be responsible for authorise abattoirs

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    1. Stuart

      As a former GP and gun owner the only danger I see is to one’s wallet. The GP can only be a reporter of fact regarding what is already available in your medical records which would be produced in any event if you answer the licence application honestly in the first place and the police require a medical report. To link the industrial action of junior doctors to GP using this as cash cows is a misunderstanding as GPs are not junior doctors and not taking industrial action. Even in rural areas there would be too few shooters needing a report in the first place per GP to make any financial incentives and in any event they will not be doing any more reports than they had to do in the first place assuming licence applicants continue to answer the police questionnaire honestly in the first place. There is no financial incentive to block shooting by GPs. The only change is to our pockets to pay for a report, if one is indicated. The cost has shifted from government to the applicant; whether this is right or wrong is another matter. Please don’t blame the GPs.
      Stuart, qualified doctor and legal shotgun owner.

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    2. Robert Smith

      Yes, I can. GP’s are not stupid people. If any GP thought that people with FAC’ and SGC’s were the ones hanging round street corners conducting gang warfare with their legally possessed firearms then would not have end up as GP’s!

      Do you really think that GP’s think that street corner gun crime is perpetrated by people who have the blessing of the police to own firearms? Really?

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    1. Robert Smith

      If your GP lies about you then report them a they will be struck off.

      The only thing your GP is being asked to do is to provide factual information from your records. They are NOT being asked to give an opinion on you.

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  2. K

    Funny how we are treated so badly despite being law abiding citizens……yes Terrorists can claim all kinds of help and human rights…….maybe they are not so daft after all as they seem to get left alone by the authorities.
    I look forward to the day I can leave this country, hopefully never to return.
    I’m sorry to say it but UK is no motherland to me, it’s just full of power hungry, disgusting people in powe that seem intent to stamp on the common man especially if he/she enjoys the peaceful sport of shooting.
    Oh well best join the masses of “normal” people…..Saturday night….a pint and a fight……the great British night….PAH……pathetic England!

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    1. Richard Bowden

      You may find our Declaration of Independence to be interesting reading. It deals with the various and sundry usurpation of tyrants.

      Worked for us. Maybe you should give it a try.

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  3. Robert Sandison

    Nowhere in the firearms acts can you find anything justifying this . They just seem to make it up as they go along .

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    1. Robert Smith

      You can. The Chief officer must be satisfied “…in all the circumstances…” that the applicant is fit to be entrusted with firearms before granting the certificate. That pretty much justifies anything, unfortunately.

      Lots in this article simply isn’t true, though. An example;

      “…shooters will be expected to pay for routine medical reports, which police will demand with every grant and renewal of a certificate starting this April.”

      I am aware of several applications currently in process and others which have been granted in the past few days – none of which have involved ‘routine’ medical reports. I know people who have sent in renewals since the beginning of the month and none have been asked to supply medical reports.

      This simply is not happening. The police are not asking for a medical report as a matter of routine. They are only doing so if you declare a condition that they want clarification on. That is information direct from a senior staff member at my licensing department four days ago.

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  4. Robert Sandison

    As a matter of interest just how many people are shot and killed by legal gun owners each year in the UK ? I have been unable to find any official statistics on this matter .

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  5. commonly called cosmin

    “In a world where authorities routinely ignore people’s privacy, dignity and autonomy, people will reduce the amount they engage with the authorities to the bare minimum. This is a dangerous move that ultimately drives a wedge not only between the police and the licensed firearms community but also between the community and the medical profession.”

    I will do exactly that, I already visit my GP very rarely, this might be the straw that breaks the camel’s back and I might withdraw 100% from the farcical medical industry. I am a believer in homeopathy anyway, so in a way I am glad that this has happened.

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  6. TruckiPete (@TruckiPete)

    As a firearms licence holder here in Australia, just wondering whether you guys have to have a medical check before you are allowed a Firearms licence, or before you buy each gun, or is it only if the Police request you undergo a Medical or if it’s after an “incident”.?
    Or is it a Mental Health check? That would be the only reason I’d expect to undergo a Medical for a Firearms Licence.!
    (Unfamiliar with U.K. Firearm Laws)

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  7. Matt

    Ive just been asked for £88.50 from my GP to proceed with the police’s requisition for my renewal of my shotgun certificate. Is this an acceptable amount or too much?

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