WARWICKSHIRE Police will be supporting a national firearms surrender that aims to make our communities safer.
The surrender will run for a fortnight from Saturday 20th July until Sunday 4th August giving members of the public the opportunity to safely dispose of a firearm by handing it in at a local police station.
The national initiative is being co-ordinated by the National Ballistics Intelligence Service (NABIS) with all forces in England and Wales taking part.
The aim is to reduce the number of illegal or unlicensed firearms in circulation and in turn, to decrease the opportunities for firearms to be used in a criminal offence.
During the last surrender in 2017, 9,496 items were handed into police nationally. These included hand guns, rifles, shotguns, antique guns and imitation firearms, as well as 1,988 items of ammunition.
A total of 74 firearms and 32 lots of ammunition were surrendered across Warwickshire – the vast majority of these were not being used for criminal use.
People surrendering firearms will not be required to leave any information, but if police suspect a weapon may have been involved in a crime, they will examine it for evidence.
All surrendered weapons will be destroyed and in exceptional circumstances, if the weapon has historical value, it may be donated to a museum.
Illegal possession of a firearm can mean five years behind bars and if you are found guilty of possession with intent to supply, it can lead to a life sentence.
Ahead of the surrender, Superintendent Mike Smith said: “Compared with other areas of the country we don’t have a significant gun problem, but we are keen to support this national campaign to help keep our communities safe.
“The whole aim is to remove any firearms that could potentially be used in a crime from public circulation. There have also been some law changes recently and some firearms that used to be legal to possess are now illegal so we would advise people to check the government website for any changes in the law.
“Our policing area has a number of licensed firearms owners, and this is an opportunity for them to hand in old weapons or guns they do not require.
“The majority of the firearms handed in during the last surrender were older items the owner no longer needed and wanted to safely dispose of.
“People may have older or historical weapons stored in lofts or garages, which have been inherited or passed down through the family, and these can also be disposed of during the surrender.
“While these are not being used for criminal activities, they can, and sometimes do, fall into the wrong hands and can then be used to commit crimes.
“By participating in the surrender, people can be confident that items have been safely disposed of. Every firearm surrendered is one less weapon that could be used to commit crime.”
Warwickshire Police and Crime Commissioner Philip Seccombe said: “While thankfully gun crime is still very rare in Warwickshire, the safety of our residents and communities is absolutely paramount, so I am pleased to see Warwickshire Police take part in the firearms surrender.
“By taking unlicensed firearms off the street, Warwickshire Police is ensuring they cannot be used by criminals.
“However, we are a predominately rural county with large numbers of registered shotgun and firearms holders who have legitimate access to weapons, so I’d ask everyone in this situation to ask themselves whether they need all the firearms and ammunition they own.
“If not, they should take advantage of this surrender to hand them in to be safely and securely disposed of. Any weapon has the potential to fall into the wrong hands, so each one surrendered is one less with the potential to cause a death or serious injury.”
Guns and ammunition, including replica firearms, BB guns and antique weapons, can be surrendered at designated police stations during the surrender.
Anyone handing an item in is advised to call 101 and notify police of the time and station they will be attending. During the surrender, firearms can be deposited at the following police stations:
Leamington Spa Police Station
Warwickshire Justice Centre
Nuneaton Police Station
Warwickshire Justice Centre
Rugby Police Station
All three stations are open from Monday to Saturday between 8am and 6.30pm and on Sundays and Bank Holidays between 10am and 4pm.
To report any concerns about the possession of firearms please call 101 or 999 in an emergency. Alternatively, you can make a report anonymously to the independent charity Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111 or via their website