GUN owners across North Yorkshire, where there are more firearms than any other area in England, could be facing difficulties renewing licences North Yorkshire Police have warned.

New government rules are being introduced which means anyone renewing a firearm or shotgun certificate after November 11 will need to provide a medical report.

The force say they will be unable to issue new licences for the foreseeable future. There are more than 50,000 guns in the county.

It is understood the tightening of the rules across the UK comes after the Plymouth shootings this summer when gunman, 22-year-old Jake Davison, shot and killed five people, injuring two others before fatally shooting himself. Davison had a firearms licence.

According to Home Office statistics, 6,863 firearms certificates and 46,639 shotgun certificates are current in North Yorkshire, the highest in England.

Police firearms licensing manager Det Insp Andy Palmer said anyone who needs to renew their licences, which are held for five years, will need a medical report either from their GP or from a number of companies who provide the service.

He said: "You will not be able to complete your application for a firearm or a shotgun certificate without the report. We are currently managing a high volume of renewals and we anticipate an increase in the number of people who cannot complete their application in time, due to the necessity of now having a complete medical report.

"If you have successfully submitted your renewal, then please be assured that we will contact you if anything else is needed. Please only contact our department if your query is urgent.

"Unfortunately, due to the change to the renewals process, no new grant applications are being processed at this time. I understand this may cause some frustration and disappointment for those who have already submitted an application however we want to let those individuals know we are working through these as quickly as we can, and you should hear from us no later than January 2022."

Martin Parker, head of firearms for the British Association of Shooting Conservation said North Yorkshire is believed to be among the first forces to warn of the crackdown.

"This has not been handled well, forces have been hit with a double whammy of Covid-19 and the tightening of the restrictions," he said. "Many believe this is a reaction after the tragic events in Plymouth, obviously it is a matter of protecting the public.

"For some people their livelihood absolutely depends on having a gun licence, such as gamekeepers, and we would ask the force to look at exceptions for anyone who needs their licence to work."