A NATIONAL firearms surrender giving people the opportunity to safely dispose of a firearm at their local police station is being backed by West Mercia Police.
The surrender will run for two weeks from Saturday, July 20 to Sunday, August 4.
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, more than 9,000 items were handed into police nationally.
These included hand guns, rifles, shotguns, antique (obsolete calibre) guns and imitation firearms, as well as ammunition.
Across West Mercia, 228 weapons were handed into local stations – 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 Mel Crowther 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 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 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.”
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 Redditch police station, open Monday to Saturday 8am to 6.30pm, Sunday and Bank Holidays 10am to 4pm).
To report any concerns about the possession of firearms, 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