STAFFORDSHIRE Police are holding a two-week opportunity for people to surrender unwanted firearms and ammunition starting 27 October to 9 November 2014.
New firearms legislation came into affect on 14 July increasing the maximum jail term for illegal gun possession from 10 years to life and now includes anyone who is storing a weapon for someone else. It also includes antique firearms amid fears obsolete weapons can be made viable by criminals with ballistics know-how.
Many firearms may be held in innocence and ignorance of their illegality or may be overlooked or forgotten in people’s homes. This gives holders the chance to dispose of the firearm and ammunition safely by handing it in at a police station.
During the two week period, those surrendering firearms will not face prosecution for the illegal possession and, if they wish, can remain anonymous. However, the history of each live weapon will be checked for evidence of its use in crimes.
Surrendering unwanted or unlicensed weapons avoids the risk of them becoming involved in criminality and means that people can dispose of firearms and ammunition in a safe place.
Superintendent Mick Boyle, Head of Operational Services, said: “Gun crime in the UK has continued to fall year on year for the last ten years. In Staffordshire there has been a 23 per cent decrease. But, we are not complacent about gun crime which is why we are giving this opportunity for people to dispose of unwanted guns safely.
“People may have firearms that belong to other people, who have inherited them, or may have been overlooked or forgotten. We would encourage people to check their attics, sheds and cupboards and hand weapons in.
NABIS work with police forces across the UK to provide a forensic service to analyse guns and ballistic material. Head of NABIS, Detective Chief Superintendent Iain O’Brien, said: “These opportunities allow people to hand firearms over to police and prevent them falling into the hands of criminals and endangering the public. We are pleased that Staffordshire Police is running this operation and we hope as many people as possible take this opportunity to surrender their guns.”
Weapons and ammunition can be surrendered at any police station but anyone handing in a firearm during this opportunity is advised to check the opening times of their nearest station before they set off. Details can be found on the force websitewww.staffordshire.police.uk
Anyone wishing to hand-in firearms should disarm them and put them in a box or strong bag and putting ammunition in a separate box/bag.
Supt Boyle added: “Together with our partners we continually work hard to educate young people about firearms and the dangers that come with them, to ensure that gun crime doesn’t become prevalent in the future.”