Individuals with a history of domestic violence should not be permitted to possess a firearm or shotgun, a new Home Office guidance says.
It also says that every incident of domestic violence should prompt a police review of whether a certificate holder should be allowed to hold a firearm without posing a danger to the public.
The new guidance will form part of the Firearms Guide, which police forces use when deciding whether to grant a certificate to an applicant.
Minister for Policing Damian Green said: “Domestic violence is unacceptable in any society and perpetrators should be in no doubt that their chances of ever holding a firearms certificate are greatly diminished.
“This new Home Office guidance clearly sets out a process which police forces should follow when considering an application from someone with a history of domestic violence. It should also ensure the views and experiences of victims of domestic abuse are carefully and sensitively taken into account. I am confident this guidance will continue to protect the public from people who are not suitable to hold firearms.”
The guidance states that when police officers receive information about an applicant having a history of domestic violence, they should consider interviewing their family, friends and associates.
It also states that speaking to the applicant’s partner – who might be a victim of abuse – may be judged to be “essential”.
The information the partner gives must be treated confidentially and police would need to take steps to make sure they are safe from possible reprisals.
The partner would not have to approve an application for a firearms certificate – that responsibility would still lie with the police, who would also consult their own force’s domestic violence unit.
The guidance also says police would not have to rely on a criminal conviction for domestic violence when considering applications.
They would be able to consider police intelligence about an incident, looking at how recent it was and whether it was isolated behaviour or part of a pattern.