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Police support national firearms surrender

Warwickshire Police and West Mercia Police are supporting a national firearms surrender that aims to make our communities safer.

The surrender will run for two weeks from Monday 13 November until Sunday 26 November 2017, and will give members of the public the opportunity to safely dispose of a firearm by simply taking it to a local police station and handing it in.

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 to decrease the opportunities for firearms to be used in a criminal offence. 

During the last surrender in 2014, more than 6000 items were handed into police nationally. These included hand guns, rifles, shotguns, antique (obsolete calibre) guns and imitation firearms, as well as ammunition. Within Warwickshire, 113 weapons were handed in during the last surrender, 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 or 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, Chief Inspector Mark Colquhoun 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.

"Our policing area has a large number of licensed firearms owners, and this is also an opportunity for them to hand in old weapons or guns they no longer require. The majority of the firearms handed in during the last surrender were older items that 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 can be used to commit crime."

Warwickshire Police and Crime Commissioner Philip Seccombe said:  "Gun crime is still thankfully rare in Warwickshire, but protecting people from harm is key commitment in my Police and Crime Plan, so this gun surrender campaign is welcome news.

"We are a predominately rural county with large numbers of registered shotgun and firearms holders who have legitimate access to weapons.  However, I'd urge everyone to take stock and consider whether they need all the firearms and ammunition they own and if not, 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 within Warwickshire (all open Monday-Saturday 8am-6.30pm, Sunday and Bank Holidays 10am-4pm):

• Leamington Spa Police Station
Warwickshire Justice Centre
Newbold Terrace
Leamington Spa
CV32 4EL

• Nuneaton Police Station
Warwickshire Justice Centre
Vicarage Street
Nuneaton
CV11 4JU

• Rugby Police Station
Newbold Road
Rugby
CV21 2DH

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 at www.crimestoppers-uk.org

Published 13/11/17