Nottinghamshire Police is supporting a national appeal for people to hand over any unwanted guns with a two-week surrender of firearms and ammunition, starting on Monday (November 13).
It has been three years since the last national firearms surrender, when forces across the country again asked members of the public to surrender unlawfully held or unwanted guns and ammunition to prevent them from getting into criminal hands.
Many firearms are held in innocence and ignorance of their illegality or are overlooked and forgotten in people’s homes.
Others are acquired and distributed by criminal networks to threaten or harm their local communities.
The surrender gives members of the public the chance to dispose of a firearm or ammunition by simply taking it to a local designated police station and handing it in. During the last surrender in Nottinghamshire in 2014, a total of 232 firearms were recovered, as well as thousands of pieces of ammunition.
Nottinghamshire Police Assistant Chief Constable Steve Cooper said: “During this Firearms Surrender we want to create an opportunity for people to prevent firearms falling into the wrong hands. If you know where a weapon is being kept illegally, now is your chance to give up the gun, or tell us anonymously where it is. You will not face prosecution at the point of surrender and you could save a life.
“One weapon off the streets is one less that can be used to harm or threaten our communities.
“Whilst the surrender is taking place we will continue to use all of the powers and information available to us to locate the weapons in criminal hands. We are working with partners and our local communities to safeguard, educate and intervene at the earliest opportunity and would urge anyone with information about people involved with illegal firearms to call us on 101 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.”
The surrender initiative is being co-ordinated by the National Ballistics Intelligence Service (NABIS). The surrender will run for two weeks from Monday 13 November to Sunday 26 November 2017 and during that period, in Nottinghamshire, guns and ammunition can be handed in at four designated police stations: Mansfield, Newark, Radford Road and Worksop.
Anyone handing in a firearm, ammunition or any other weapon during the surrender in Nottinghamshire is advised to check the opening times of their station in advance by calling 101 or visiting the force website at www.nottinghamshire.police.uk. If you have a firearm to surrender but cannot get to a designated police station during the surrender period, please call 101 for guidance.
Paddy Tipping, Nottinghamshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner, said: “I’m clear that firearms, in the wrong hands, can cause serious injury or worse. This surrender gives people the opportunity to hand firearms over to the police to prevent them from falling into the hands of criminals.
“Thankfully the chances of becoming a victim of gun crime Nottinghamshire remains low, but one incident is one too many. Every firearm that we can take out of circulation is out of harm’s way and I hope that people with old, disused or unwanted firearms, whether they are real, imitation or antique, will take this opportunity to dispose of them responsibly.”
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.”
During that period, those handing over firearms will not face prosecution for the illegal possession, at the point of surrender, and can remain anonymous.
Latest crime figures issued on 19 October 2017 by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) show that crime involving firearms in England & Wales has increased by 27% (to 6,696). This is for year ending June 2017 compared with the previous year (5,269 offences).
Illegal possession of a firearm can mean five years behind bars and if you are found guilty of possession with intent to supply that can lead to a life sentence.
During the last national firearms surrender in 2014 more than 6,000 items were handed in to police forces across the country. These included hand guns, rifles, shotguns, antique (obsolete calibre) guns and imitation firearms, as well as ammunition.
ACC Cooper added: “Gun crime thankfully remains rare, but one gun in the hands of the wrong person can cause huge damage and potentially loss of life. We want to take them off the streets and out of harm’s way.
“Each firearm we retrieve has the potential to save a life so do the right thing and surrender your weapon.”
If you know of anyone involved with illegal firearms call Nottinghamshire Police on 101 or independent charity Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111. If you are a licensed firearm holder who wants advice please contact Nottinghamshire Police on 101. For more information about NABIS visit www.nabis.police.uk or follow on Twitter @NABIS_UK