Two week gun amnesty launches today across UK

A two week UK-wide firearms surrender campaign targeting unlawfully-held trophies of war as well as guns in the hands of criminal gangs launches today.

Senior officers hope the initiative, starting on Monday, will emulate the success of a similar campaign across England and Wales in 2014, which saw more than 6,000 weapons handed in.

National Police Chiefs' Council Lead for Criminal Use of Firearms, Northumbria Police assistant chief constable Helen McMillan, said it was aimed at the "full spectrum" of society.

She 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 guns 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."

Ms McMillan added: "We are asking anybody if you have one of those weapons, be it a BB-gun, air weapon, a rifle, a shotgun or a pistol, it could be a trophy of war, it could be a starting pistol, please contact us on 101 and arrange to hand it in to your nearest police station.

"The surrender is aimed at everyone, it is aimed at a criminal who may have a weapon but also it's aimed at those members of the public who may have a weapon that's been in the family for quite some time.

"Some people will come across weapons when they're clearing the houses of relatives or when they are going through drawers of someone who may have passed away.

"They may not be comfortable with possessing that weapon but may not know what to do with it."

After stressing that those handing firearms in will not be prosecuted for possessing a weapon at the point of its surrender, Ms McMillan added: "For the last 10 years we have seen a decrease in gun-related crime, however there has been a rise in gun-related crimes in the last 12 months.

A gun amnesty in 2001. Credit: PA

"That has really been concentrated in the larger metropolitan areas, linked potentially to gangs and young people.

"So it's really important that we take every opportunity we can to reduce the availability of weapons across society."

The National Ballistics Intelligence Service (Nabis) is co-ordinating the surrender initiative and says many firearms are held in innocence and ignorance of their illegality, or are overlooked and forgotten in people's homes.

Detective Chief Superintendent Jo Chilton, head of Nabis, said: "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."

The surrender, involving designated police stations, also applies to ammunition and runs until November 26.

Figures issued last month by the Office for National Statistics showed that crime involving firearms in England and Wales increased by 27% in the year to June 2017.