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Firearms licensing updates

Alert message sent 01/09/2020 10:37:00

Information sent on behalf of Hampshire Constabulary


Since March, due to the restrictions of COVID, we have not been able to carry out visits to our existing certificate holders or new applicants. During this time, while we have continued to receive and process renewals of existing certificates, we unfortunately had to suspend our service for new grant applications. With effect from today, Tuesday 1 September 2020, we are resuming service and opening up our full online home facility for the grant of new certificates, in addition to renewals. 
 
If you have been waiting for this service to resume, thank you for your patience and understanding during these difficult times.

Important changes to making an application (new grant and renewal)
From 1 September, we are changing an important aspect of how we receive applications.  Following consultation with our stakeholders and the Wessex Local Medical Committees, Chief Constable Olivia Pinkney has decided that, in order to further improve our service and efficiency, we will need all applicants, whether for a new grant or the renewal of an existing certificate, to provide a factual medical report from their General Practitioner (GP) at the time of application.

A number of police forces have already taken steps to implement this new system, known as GP reports, with the reports providing factual medical information, as completed by the applicant’s GP. The reports will streamline the processing of all applications, whether they are for the grant or renewal of firearm and shotgun certificates or dealer registration or renewal.

The previous system was defined in the 2016 Home Office Guide on Firearms Licensing Law (Annex C), and resulted in us having difficulty in obtaining GP reports. Some surgeries took the view of conscientious objection, while others, quite rightly, would not provide the service until a fee had been paid. This left us having to negotiate with the GP on behalf of our customers, which required resource that took us away from our core business.

In September 2019 the British Medical Association (BMA) and Royal College of GPs (RCGPs) reviewed their advice to General Practitioners, clarifying elements that were concerning some surgeries and publishing a flow chart that supported the patient obtaining their own report prior to submitting their application to the police.

In Hampshire, we are now amending our system in order to enable us to make early and better informed decisions that will assist in protecting shooting communities, individuals and the wider public. It is important that all the material that informs the decision to grant or refuse a certificate is available at the beginning of the process. Moving to this system will make the processing of applications more efficient for you as our customers as we will have all the material necessary to process your application right from the start. This will also make the process more structured and clear, both for your GP and us in the Licensing Department.

As the provision of the GP report is not a requirement of their NHS contract, surgeries are permitted to charge a fee for the report, as they do for other non-medical services. The matter of these fees is between the patient and their GP, and is not something over which Hampshire Constabulary has any control or in which we will become involved.

Please note that in order to make this an equitable service for all our customers, we will not accept an application from anyone who does not provide their completed GP report at the time of making the application.

New grant applications (see below for renewals)
If you would like to submit a new grant application please visit our website, or search online for “Hampshire police firearms licensing”. From there, and before you submit your application, you will need to download our form and take it to your GP to complete. 

Once you have your obtained your completed GP report, go back to the website and submit your application in accordance with the notes and guidance. As soon as you submit your application, the system will send you an email with a link that will enable you to send us your GP form.

https://www.hampshire.police.uk/ar/applyregister/fao/hc/firearms-and-explosives-licensing/applications/

Renewal applications
When you receive your reminder letter about renewing your certificate, please follow the advice in that as to whether or not you need to obtain your own GP report. If we need you to provide the report, we will make that clear in the letter.

Please note, if you submit your renewal application before we have written to you, unless in exceptional circumstances, it is likely to be returned, in order for you to follow the new procedure once you receive the renewal invite letter.

In due course, the same requirements for a GP report will apply to all renewal applications, as well as grants, but there will need to be a transition period – your renewal letter will tell you if you need to provide the GP report.
 
Message sent by
Phil Rogers (Police, Corporate Communications Officer, Hampshire Corporate Communications)

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