Police are asking people to hand in illegal or unwanted guns and ammunition during a campaign running from Saturday, July 20, to Sunday, August 4.
They say 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 harm, threaten and intimidate their local communities.
The appeal gives people the chance to dispose of firearms or ammunition by simply handing them in at their local police station. They can be handed in at Uckfield Monday to Friday, 10am-2pm.
During the surrender period, those surrendering firearms will not face prosecution for illegal possession of a firearm at the point of surrender of the firearm to lawful authority, and they can remain anonymous.
However, this surrender does not mean police will not investigate firearms offences, should any come to light, once the operation has concluded.
This is a firearms surrender; not a firearms amnesty, and police are committed to reduce the harm to our communities from firearms crime.
The surrender, which runs from Monday 20 July to Sunday 4 August, forms part of a national campaign by the National Ballistics Intelligence Service (NABIS).
The aim of the operation, supported by Surrey and Sussex Police, is to reduce the number of illegally held firearms in circulation which could fall into the hands of criminals.
This includes replica firearms, air weapons, BB guns, imitation firearms, antique guns, de-activated guns, component parts, stun guns, Taser, cs/pepper spray and other ballistic items.
We are also encouraging current and previous military personnel to hand in any items kept as war trophies.
Detective Chief Inspector Steve Rayland said: “If you have any guns or ammunition you no longer want, or if you don’t know what to do with them or how to safely dispose of them, we can help. By surrendering your weapons now, it will prevent them falling into the hands of criminals and endangering the public.
“We recognise that firearms or replica weapons in the wrong hands can assist in the commission of serious offences, can increase community fears, can result in a significant drain on police resources responding to incidents, and can present a potential risk to armed officers confronting an individual in possession of a weapon they believe to be real.
“While crimes involving firearms in both Sussex and Surrey are extremely rare, we understand that every weapon poses a potential threat if not licensed and stored safely. That’s why we’re offering people this opportunity to safely hand in their unwanted weapons which, if in the wrong hands, could be deadly.
“During the surrender we want people to hand in illegally-held guns and ammunition, imitation firearms and air guns used for criminal purposes, other unwanted guns and ammunition including air guns and imitations, and firearms you are being asked to hide for someone else. If you have a gun that falls into any of these categories, now is your chance to hand it in.”
During the two-week campaign, those surrendering firearms will not face prosecution for the illegal possession upon surrender, and can remain anonymous.
Furthermore, lawful gun licence-holders can be reassured that these measures merely enhance their rights and privileges to own firearms, by removing the dangerous ones from the wrong hands. They are also encouraged to use this campaign to consider the surrender of weapons they no longer have any use for.
DCI Rayland added: “I’d like to clarify that this is a firearms surrender and not a general firearms amnesty for the lifetime of the firearm; an amnesty will be granted for police possession of an item only at the point of handover (surrender).
“The fight against gun crime is stronger than ever, and we are working with partners and our local communities to safeguard, educate and intervene at the earliest opportunity. We take all reports of incidents involving firearms extremely seriously, and robust action will be taken against anyone who commits a firearms related offence.”
Sussex Police and Crime Commissioner Katy Bourne said: “The UK has some of the tightest firearms legislation in the world for good reason. Nobody wants to see firearms falling into the wrong hands- by accident or by design.
“Recent changes in legislation however, mean that there could well be many law abiding people who could find themselves illegally in possession of firearms from antiques, souvenirs and replicas without realising it.
“I would urge Sussex residents who may have any sort of firearm or ammunition at home to ask themselves whether it is safe and legal to keep hold of it and if they are in any doubt to hand it in.
“The fortnight-long firearms surrender starting on July 20 is aimed at reducing the number of firearms in circulation and reducing the potential risk of them being used in crimes or being discharged by accident.”