Merseyside Police is today, Thursday 12 May, appealing for people to hand over guns and ammunition as part of a two-week national firearms surrender.
Through targeted operations and activity firearms incidents in Merseyside are the lowest they have been for 20 years, but one incident is one too many and we are appealing for the public’s help to make sure more weapons are out of circulation.
Forces across the UK are asking members of the public to hand in unlawfully held or unwanted weapons to prevent them from ever getting into criminal hands.
This year’s surrender is being co-ordinated by the National Ballistics Intelligence Service (NABIS), and will run until Sunday 29 May.
During that period, people can hand over any firearms and ammunition by calling 101. They will not face prosecution for the illegal possession at the point of surrender and can remain anonymous.
During the last national surrender in August 2019, a total of 131 weapons were handed in on Merseyside, including 22 workable firearms, as well as ammunition.
A further 14 live guns, nine BB guns, 12 air weapons and a quantity of ammunition were collected last year when Merseyside Police launched a county-wide firearms surrender following changes to antique gun legislation.
This change in law means it is no longer legal in some cases to own specific firearms without a license. Those who do not meet the relevant ownership requirements can face a five-year jail sentence or more if convicted.
Detective Chief Superintendent and Head of Investigations Mark Kameen said, “Many people who have firearms in their possession may have them stored away at home, and may even have forgotten they have them. But please be aware that you could be breaking the law by storing it if found to be in possession of a firearm without a licence.
“If your property is burgled and a weapon you are storing finds its way into the wrong hands, it could be used to threaten, injure or even kill someone so every time a weapon is taken out of circulation, our streets are made safer.
“Unfortunately we have seen the devasting effect gun crime has on families and communities in Merseyside when someone is killed or injured.
“This firearms surrender campaign gives people the opportunity to prevent further harm from being brought to our streets, by disposing of their firearm and ammunition in a responsible and safe way by calling 101 and arranging for an officer to collect it.”
Det Chief Supt Kameen added, “This firearms surrender lasts for two weeks, but Merseyside Police carries out targeted activity 365 days a year to disrupt those prepared to store, carry or use firearms, remove firearms from circulation and put offenders before the courts.
“Stop searches are carried out across Merseyside, open spaces are searched for weapons, and warrants are executed at addresses – with suspects arrested and weapons recovered as a result.
“The public can play a key role in our efforts, and we are urging our communities to help in the fight to take firearms off our streets by checking your gardens and alleyways for firearms that could be concealed away by gangs.”
Members of the public may see an increase in police activity during the two-week campaign while operational work is carried out such as open land searches. Additional activities taking place include letters being sent out to registered firearms holders and followed up by visits, letters and visits to dealers and gun clubs to support the campaign who will then spread the message to members.
Merseyside Police is leading the campaign on behalf of other forces in the North West, who also have activities planned over the two-week period.
Mr Kameen continued, “Through all of our activity and with the public’s help, we have driven down the number of discharges in Merseyside – in the year-ending March there were 39 firearms discharges in the region which is the lowest figure for 21 years.
“But every single incident is one too many, and I would like to reassure everyone that we are doing everything we can to take more guns off our streets, and are determined and relentless in our pursuit to continue to reduce this number.
“Through our activities we continually seize firearms, and thanks to our proactive work through police operations and convicting people through the courts, we have recovered more weapons than before.
“This is great news but we know preventing further harm requires our unwavering commitment, and we will relentlessly pursue criminals to make our communities a safer place to live.
“We need the public to help get these destructive weapons off our streets and appeal for people to check under their gardens, sheds, alleyways and areas where firearms could be hidden away. It is thanks to the public that we have removed 63 weapons off the streets in the last year.”
To arrange an appointment for a firearm to be collected call police on 101, and this can be at a location of their choice.
Images: Merseyside Police