Merseyside Police is encouraging members of the public to surrender offensive weapons by implementing a government scheme, which includes targeting those carrying and using dangerous weapons and removing them from our streets. The Home Office Weapon Surrender and Compensation scheme starts today (10 December) and will run for three months, encouraging everyone that owns a weapon, legally or not to hand it in to officers before the law changes and makes it an offence to own weapons, now including flick and gravity knives. After these three months, new legislation will make it an offence to possess all offensive weapons listed on the gov.uk website in a private place or dwelling, as well as in any public place. Superintendent Andy Rankine said “This change in the law means that officers up and down the country have greater power in removing dangerous weapons from our streets and deal with people who are intent on carrying or using weapons to cause fear and harm in our communities.” To put this into action, Merseyside Police will receive these weapons on behalf of the Home Office via designated drop-off locations including Wallasey, Admiral Street, Kirkby and Southport Police Stations. Photo by kat wilcox What is the ‘Offensive Weapons Act’? The Offensive Weapons Act 2019 is an act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom. The act addresses crimes related to acid attacks; knife crime prevention orders; the sale of, delivery and possession of knives and other offensive weapons; and introduced further restrictions on firearms. What do these changes mean for those living in Merseyside? The Offensive Weapons Act 2019 is an important part of the response to serious violence and gives the police the powers they need to go further in tackling serious violence. The Act includes new measures to control the sale of knives and corrosive substances, introduces new offences relating to their possession and use and will bring in new Knife Crime Prevention Orders. Superintendent Jenn Wilson, who heads up our Operation Target Team added: “This Act goes hand in hand with Operation Target, which is our proactive response here in Merseyside to tackle this area of criminality and deter people from getting involved in knife crime in particular, gang violence, drugs offences and other forms of serious violence. “We use a variety of police tactics and resources to target specific areas of concern, conduct warrants to locate named individuals, are advocates for stop search and will continue to focus our efforts on reducing serious violence, criminal exploitation and all associated criminal behaviour.” If you currently lawfully own any of the items listed on the gov.uk website and will not be permitted to keep them, you should surrender the item(s) to the police. The surrender and compensation scheme allows you to claim compensation for items surrendered if you meet the eligibility criteria. Will you have to surrender your item(s)? Once the measures in the Offensive Weapons Act 2019 prohibiting possession of these items come in to force, it will be an offence to possess them, aside from a few circumstances. However, before they are prohibited, the Act allows for legal owners of these items to surrender them to the police and claim compensation for their loss. So what happens now? If you are the lawful owner of one of the weapons outlined, you will need to need to download, or request from the Home Office, and complete the Offensive Weapons Act Surrender and Compensation Scheme Claim Form. This should then be taken with the weapon to one of the designated drop-off police stations. Please ensure you check our opening times on our website. Any registered firearms holders who would fall under the scope of the surrender will be contacted by our Firearms Registry Team. What if I don’t hand my weapon in? Once the surrender scheme closes, you will still be able to surrender the item to the police, but you will not be able to claim compensation for the loss of the item. Alternatively, if you chose to keep your illegal weapon after the three month surrender, you will be committing a criminal offence and will face serious consequences. Supt Rankine concluded, “Please be reminded that you must complete a surrender form before bringing your weapon in, or you could face being arrested. “Although some may not be supportive of this change in legislation, I hope the majority of Merseyside welcome this and see the positive repercussions from this. We hope that less people will fall victim of knife and gun crime as well as assault and murder. “If you carry or use a weapon, you could take someone’s life as well as ruining your own – it is not big, it is not clever and weapons certainly do not protect you. Help us keep Merseyside as safe as we can by taking this opportunity to surrender your weapons and encourage others to do the same.” A full list of weapons that are now prohibited is listed on the gov.uk website.