The Home Office has unveiled a digital marker system to alert police of any medical issue for a licensed gun owner.
From this week, the marker will be rolled out to GP surgeries in England to flag that a patient has a firearms licence.
Doctors noticing a change in a patient’s condition – such as mental health problems, diagnosis of a neurological condition or evidence of substance abuse – can then alert the relevant police force. In turn the force can review the licence and, if deemed appropriate, seize the firearm.
The marker has been developed by NHS Digital and will be available to 98% of GP practices immediately. The system was agreed in co-operation with the British Medical Association and comes after it agreed with the Home Office and National Police Chiefs Council on a memorandum of understanding on the role of doctors in the firearms licensing system.
It bolsters recent statutory guidance, brought into force last November, that sets out that the police cannot grant a firearms licence until they have reviewed information from a suitably qualified doctor regarding the applicant’s medical history.
Minister for Crime, Policing and Probation Kit Malthouse said: “We are focused on making our streets safer and it is absolutely right that the police be told about changes in the medical circumstances of anyone licensed to own a gun. This move is yet another example of us giving the police the tools they require to protect the public.”
Minister for Patient Safety and Primary Care, Maria Caulfield, said: “These new measures make it easier for GPs to identify any concerning medical issues with gun holders or applicants, before passing this vital information on to relevant police forces, helping ensure public safety.”