People across Staffordshire and Cheshire are being urged to hand over any unwanted guns as part of a two week amnesty.
It has been three years since the last national firearms surrender, when police forces asked members of the public to surrender unlawfully held or unwanted firearms 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 you the chance to dispose of a firearm or ammunition by simply taking it to your local police station and handing it in.
Superintendent Carl Ratcliffe, head of prevention and early intervention, said: "I am urging anyone with an unwanted firearm to hand it over to police. You don't have to give your name or address; we just want more firearms out of harm's way.
"We are lucky to have very low levels of gun crime in Staffordshire, but for that to remain we must prevent firearms ending up in criminal hands. Perhaps you have a firearm 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 it. During the campaign this November you can contact us and either hand in or request a pick-up of any unwanted or illegal firearms. This way you can be confident you have got rid of a firearm safely.
"Each firearm we retrieve is one less that can be involved in crime and do untold damage and harm, so do the right thing and surrender your weapon."
Guns and ammunition can be surrendered at Hanley, Longton, Burslem, Leek, Cannock, Burton, Tamworth and Stafford Police Stations, but anyone handing in a firearm, ammunition or any other weapon during the surrender is advised to check the opening times in advance by calling 101.
Inspector Dave Price said: “Gun crime in Cheshire is low and that’s the way we want to keep it, which is why I would urge people to use this surrender as an opportunity to handover any unwanted firearms, whether that’s an illegal firearm that they have in their possession, a licenced firearm that they no longer used or a wartime family relic that they don’t know what to do with. By handing any unwanted firearms over to us we can ensure that they are disposed of safely and don’t get into the wrong hands.”
Throughout the two week surrender members of the public will be able to hand in firearms or ammunition at any of the following police helpdesks:
• Chester Police station, Blacon Road, Chester
• Crewe Police Station, Civic Centre, Crewe
• Macclesfield Police station, Brunswick Street, Macclesfield
• Northwich Police station, Chesterway, Northwich
• Warrington Police Station, Arpley Street, Warrington
• Widnes Police Station, Gerrard Street, Widnes
All the weapons handed to officers will be examined to ensure that they have not been used in any criminal offences, before being deactivated and destroyed.
The surrender runs for two weeks from Monday 13 November to Sunday 26 November 2017.
During that period, those handing over firearms will not face prosecution for the illegal possession, at the point of surrender, and can remain anonymous.
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.