Northamptonshire Police is asking people to hand in unwanted and illegal firearms as part of a national two-week surrender which begins today.
Coordinated by the National Ballistics Intelligence Service (NABIS), the firearms surrender will run for two weeks, from Monday, 13 November to Sunday, 26 November 2017.
Those in possession of unlawfully held or unwanted firearms and ammunition are being encouraged to contact police to give them up safely, helping prevent them getting into criminal hands.
During the last national firearms surrender in 2014 more than 6,000 items were handed in, including 177 surrendered to Northamptonshire Police.
Chief Inspector Lara Alexander-Lloyd said: “Some firearms are held innocently and people may be worried about whether having them is illegal. Our aim is not to criminalise these people, but to encourage them to surrender these firearms for their own safety and that of others. Handing a firearm in prevents it from being acquired and distributed by criminal networks.
“The surrender gives members of the public the chance to safely dispose of firearms or ammunition, or pass on information, simply by calling 101. We just want more firearms out of circulation to help us better protect people from harm in Northamptonshire. Handing in a firearm could save a life, so I would ask you to do the right thing and surrender your weapon.”
During the surrender period, those handing over firearms will not face prosecution for illegal possession, at the point of surrender, and can remain anonymous.
Detective Chief Superintendent Jo Chilton, Head of NABIS, added: “Surrendering unwanted or illegal firearms avoids the risk of them becoming involved in crime and means that members of the community can dispose of them in a safe place.
“Perhaps you have a gun that has been handed down through the family or you have found a firearm in your loft or shed which has been gathering dust and you had forgotten about.
“During the campaign this November you can contact your local force and hand in any unwanted or illegal firearms. This way you can be confident you have got rid of a firearm safely.”
Firearms and ammunition can be given up by calling Northamptonshire Police on 101 and making an appointment for the items to be collected.
The surrender is also being used to highlight changes to firearms legislation which those in previously legal possession of guns may remain unaware of. Provisions within the Anti-social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014 make it an offence to possess prohibited weapons or ammunition for sale or transfer, and extend the definition of those prohibited from possessing firearms following a previous criminal conviction.
The latest crime figures issued on 19 October 2017 by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) show that crime involving firearms in England and Wales has increased by 27 per cent (to 6,696). This is for the year ending June 2017 compared with the previous year (5,269 offences).
The maximum sentence for illegal possession of a firearm is five years, while possession with intent to supply can lead to a life sentence.
If you know of anyone involved with illegal firearms contact police on 101, get in touch online at www.northants.police.uk, or call independent charity Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111. If you are a licensed firearm holder and would like advice please contact Northamptonshire Police on 101.