This year’s national firearms surrender started on Saturday (20th July) and runs until Sunday 4th August.
It has been two years since the last national surrender, when forces across the UK asked members of the public to surrender unlawfully held or unwanted guns and ammunition to prevent them from getting into criminal hands.
This year’s surrender is being co-ordinated by the National Ballistics Intelligence Service (NABIS) and will run for two weeks from tomorrow – Saturday 20th July until Sunday 4th August.
During the last national surrender in November 2017 a total of 122 weapons and lots of ammunition were handed in on Merseyside, including 30 viable firearms, an Uzi BB replica gun, smoke canisters and a smoke grenade.
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.
The focus of this year’s campaign will be on illegal or prohibited items which have been purchased while out of the country or via the internet or items that may have been within a family network such as war trophies, gifts or heirlooms.
The law has also recently changed around decommissioned weapons. Any firearm deactivated before new EU rules – which came into force in June 2018 – are classed as ‘defectively deactivated’ and cannot be sold, purchased or gifted. Firearms that do not meet the specification and are offered for sale must be accompanied by a deactivation certificate with an EU stamp. Previously issued UK certificates are no longer sufficient.
We are also looking to protect vulnerable people who we know are often subjected to violence/bribery or threats in order to hold or store firearms, ammunition or prohibited weapons.
Detective Chief Superintendent Mark Kameen said: “We know at first hand that gun crime devastates communities and destroys families.
“Earlier this month we launched Operation Target which is our pledge to tackle serious and violent crime. Removing guns from the hands of criminals forms part of that pledge.
“We are not under any illusion that criminals will willingly hand over weapons but we know that many firearms are held in innocence and ignorance of their illegality or are overlooked and forgotten in people’s homes. 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.
“We are also committed to protecting the most vulnerable members of our community. We know that criminals often try to take advantage of them and coerce them into hiring or storing weapons or ammunition. If you believe that someone you know could be at risk of this then please tell us so that we can take action.”
Merseyside’s Police Commissioner Jane Kennedy said: “I have seen too many times the devastation that the use of guns has brought to families and communities. Gun surrenders provide an important opportunity for people to hand in firearms to the police and prevent them being used and endangering the public.
“I join Merseyside Police in urging people to take this chance to surrender your weapon. Every gun given up is one less that poses a threat to the safety of our communities. This initiative allows those in possession of a gun, who do not want to be responsible for what would happen if it was used, to do the right thing.”
The police stations in Merseyside which will be accepting guns and ammunition during the surrender are: Birkenhead, St Helens police station on College Street, St Ann Street, Southport and Huyton but people are being advised to check the opening times of the stations in advance by messaging @MerPolCC, messaging @MerPolCC, calling 101 or visiting the Merseyside Police website – www.merseyside.police.uk