Citation(s) from the literature library

Northern Ireland. 2005 ‘Medical Information.’ Guidance on Northern Ireland Firearms Controls 2005; Part II (Article 4), pp. 9-10. Belfast: Northern Ireland Assembly. 1 February

Relevant contents

Medical Information

13. Article 4(7) requires the applicant to give permission for the police to approach his General Practitioner (GP), who should be registered, in order to obtain factual details of the applicant's medical history, which the GP considers relevant to the application. The applicant's permission will also allow the police to approach a medical consultant if they deem it appropriate
to do so.

14. This permission is to allow the police access to relevant medical opinion where there are genuine doubts or concerns about the applicant's medical history and his fitness to possess firearms. The permission should be used only where the doubts or concerns appear to require more detailed information to facilitate the final assessment. Such doubts or concerns might be raised by the applicant's answers to the medical questions on the application form or by other information available to the police.

15. The police should not approach an applicant's doctor as a matter of routine. Nor should they approach a doctor simply to check the accuracy of the medical information provided in an application form, unless there are grounds for concern about the applicant or the information given. Where an approach to an applicant's doctor is deemed necessary, it should be made in writing.

16. A GP may provide factual information on an applicant's medical history. He should not be asked to give general access to an applicant's medical records or to offer an opinion on any of the medical information given. In particular, a GP should not be asked either to endorse or oppose applications, though he may do so. Whilst we understand that a GP is unlikely to charge a fee for the provision of information, where such a fee is sought and is appropriate the cost should be met by the Chief Constable.

17. The Chief Constable may reach his own conclusions as to the significance of the medical information supplied, based on his own knowledge and experience, but may wish to seek advice from PSNI's Chief Medical Adviser or other medical source in cases where the information is difficult to understand or where its significance in terms of the possession of firearms is unclear. The decision as to the applicant's fitness, whether on medical or other grounds, is the responsibility of the Chief Constable.

18. The Chief Constable may approach the applicant's GP at any time during the life of the certificate if there are concerns about his continued fitness to possess firearms.

19. A GP may, as an act of public duty, approach the police at any time in order to pass on information of possible concern about a patient who has a firearm or is applying to acquire one. The point of initial contact in any such cases will probably be either PSNI's Firearms and Explosives Branch, who will know how best to respond to the information provided, or one of PSNI's Medical Advisers. If the former, it may be necessary in some cases for arrangements to be made for the GP to speak directly to the Medical Adviser who will then be able to provide advice to the Chief Constable.

20. It is an offence knowingly or recklessly to make a false statement to obtain the grant of a firearm certificate. This would apply to any false statement made in answer to the medical questions on the application form.

[PSNI = Police Service Northern Ireland; GP = General Practitioner]

ID: Q6846

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