Essex Police initiate gun surrender at police stations in the county

PUBLISHED: 10:06 06 November 2014 | UPDATED: 10:06 06 November 2014

Members of the public are asked to surrender arms over an amnesty period at selected police stations in Essex, from 7 - 21 November.

Members of the public are asked to surrender arms over an amnesty period at selected police stations in Essex, from 7 - 21 November.

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Essex Police are asking members of the public to surrender illegally held arms over a two-week amnesty period at stations across the county.

Essex Police are asking members of the public to surrender illegally held arms over a two-week amnesty period at stations across the county.

The move follows recent changes to legislation mean that is now illegal for some people to possess antique firearms.

Assistant Chief Constable Matthew Horne said: “We are looking for public support to get as many guns off the streets and out of potential criminal circulation as we can. Every gun given up is one less that criminals can use.

“The illegal possession of firearms in Essex has remained fairly constant over the past five years at around 330 offences per year. This covers the whole range of firearms including air weapons and pepper spray and we believe this Gun Surrender could help reduce that number significantly.

“The tragic death of PC Ian Dibell, who was shot dead while trying to disarm a man in Clacton in 2012, is an all too recent reminder of the fatal consequences that can come from the possession of guns.”

In total there will be 10 police stations across Essex which will be receiving weapons and ammunition that are disposed of during the surrender period between 8am on Friday November 7 and 11pm on Friday November 21.

They are the main stations in Colchester, Clacton, Southend, Rayleigh, Chelmsford, Basildon, Loughton, Brentwood, Harlow and Grays. They will be open to receive firearms between 8am and midnight, except Loughton and Brentwood which are open from midday until 6pm.

The surrender does not provide immunity from prosecution for the life of the firearm but is intended to provide an amnesty for possession of the gun at the point of surrender to the police.

If a gun is examined and it is believed to have previously been used in a crime or is subject to current investigation then prosecution will still be considered.

Recent changes in legislation on antique firearms also mean that someone who has received a criminal sentence, or suspended criminal sentence, of more than three months can no longer possess one of these guns.

If they have served up to three years they are banned for five years, and if they served longer then the ban is permanent.

Antique weapons are exempt from licensing laws as the ammunition to use them is now obsolete. However there has been evidence of some criminal gangs making their own bullets to use in these weapons.

ACC Horne said: “There are probably a number of people with heirloom guns that date back decades which may be kept in a drawer or the attic.

“I would ask these people to consider whether they still need to hold on to them. If you don’t then we will happily take them off your hands and make sure they are appropriately disposed of.”

Those wishing to surrender their arms are asked to remove the ammunition before they bring them to the police station. If they are unfamiliar with how to do so, they should call Essex Police on 101 who will attend to the home of that person and safely remove it.

As well as illegally held guns and ammunition the surrender period will also cover imitation firearms, air weapons, stun guns and CS gas or pepper spray. It does not cover other items such as knives, machetes and swords.

Police ask people to place the unloaded weapon in a bag or holdall so members of the public are not alarmed, and only to surrender their arms at designated stations.

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