NORTH Wales Police has introduced medical screening to applications for firearms possession in a bid to bolster its decision-making process.

The force now requires applicants to provide medical information verified by a GP for all firearm and shot gun certificates.

The certificates last for five years until they have to be renewed.

The Firearms Act 1968 and Home Office Guidance require the disclosure of past medical conditions rather than a medical screening process, however regional chief officers can depart from them at their discretion.

A spokesperson for North Wales Police said the extra measure will "enable the police to make informed decisions which will protect both the shooting community and the wider public".

They added that because Home Office Guidance has no statutory footing, "responsibility for failing to properly manage the risk would from a legal perspective fall to the police".

"The current medical process in place may leave a substantial gap in the available information and intelligence assessed at the point of grant or renewal," they said. "Medical evidence is pivotal to police decision making.

"The introduction of pre-application medical screening will ensure that the firearms licensing department has all the relevant available information as to the suitability of the applicant prior to grant or renewal. This will help to mitigate risk as far as reasonably practicable."

The change will commence on April 1 and affects all holders of firearms certificates that have expired after the five-year period.

A medical condition may not necessarily lead to an application rejection, however a false declaration could result in seizure of firearms and prosecution.

The British Medical Association says that medical screening for firearms possession falls outside of the NHS remit and allows surgeries to request a fee.