A CHANGE to a police force's firearms policy has proved to be controversial.

Thames Valley Police announced on Sunday that, from August 1, all applicants for a firearms or shotgun licence must get their GP to fill in a medical form for them.

The force has worked with local medical committees to draw up the form, and surgeries will charge people to fill them in.

Read more about the proposal here

The Home Office is due to launch a consultation about firearms this month, but in the meantime the force said it wants to ensure it can make informed decisions about who can safely own one.

It said the current policy around medical information 'may leave a substantial gap in the available information.'

The British Association for Shooting and Conservation is opposed to the policy change, however.

It had previously urged the force to shelve the plan, at least until the results of the Home Office's consultation.

A statement on its website said: "This policy change will be in breach of Home Office guidance.

"There is no agreement on the fee that GPs would charge for this service.

"Firearm and shotgun certificate holders will be subject to a postcode lottery, with many disadvantaged by exorbitant fees."

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One Oxford Mail reader, commenting on our website, said: "I have shot for 50 years and held a firearms licence since I was a teenager.

"I have never seen any unsafe characters or unwelcome behaviour in the thousands of times I have shot.

"Clubs are run on very strict basis and misbehaviour is not tolerated.

"As for medical checks, I have no problem with this as long as it is a national policy decided by government legislation, not the whim of any [police officer]."

However, others backed the change.

One reader said it will make gun ownership safer, writing: "This is one further perfectly reasonable precaution.

"And a help to boost incomes of GP practices too."

Another added: "Every gun owner should be psychologically fit to own and use any firearms.

"This is a very established practice in Europe."