Police forces across the UK are appealing for people to hand over any unwanted guns with the launch of a two week surrender of firearms and ammunition.
It has been three years since the last national firearms surrender, and North Wales Police are asking members of the public to surrender unlawfully held or unwanted guns and ammunition to prevent them from getting into criminal hands.
Many firearms are held in innocence and ignorance of their illegality or are overlooked and forgotten in people’s homes. However others are acquired and distributed by criminal networks to threaten or harm their local communities.
The two-week surrender gives members of the public the chance to dispose of a firearm or ammunition by taking it to a local designated police station and handing it in.
Detective Superintendent Steve Williams, North Wales Police said: “Given the largely rural setting of our area, it may well be that people hold unlicensed firearms that have been handed down to them from relatives for example.
“In the past they may have been concerned as regards what to do with these weapons. Furthermore there may be people who, because of the change in legislation around possessing a firearm, now own a weapon they cannot legally hold. This surrender period allows them to dispose of these weapons in a manner that can allay those fears.
“Fortunately North Wales does not have a significant gun crime problem, however we are not complacent about gun crime, which is why we are involved with the national surrender.
“We want as many guns surrendered as possible and I would encourage the public to come forward in this manner.”
The surrender, which is being co-ordinated by the National Ballistics Intelligence Service (NABIS), will run for two weeks from Monday 13th November to Sunday 26th November 2017.
During that period, those handing over firearms will not face prosecution for the illegal possession, at the point of surrender, and can remain anonymous. However, the history of each live weapon will be checked for evidence of its use in crimes.
National Police Chiefs’ Council Lead for Criminal Use of Firearms, Assistant Chief Constable Helen McMillan, 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.”
Detective Chief Superintendent Jo Chilton, Head of NABIS, added: “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.
“Perhaps you have a gun that has been handed down through the family or you have found a firearm in your loft or shed which has been gathering dust and you had forgotten about.
“During the campaign this November you can contact your local force and hand in any unwanted or illegal firearms. This way you can be confident you have got rid of a firearm safely.”
Latest crime figures released in October by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) show that crime involving firearms in England & Wales has increased by 27% (to 6,696). This is for year ending June 2017 compared with the previous year (5,269 offences)
Illegal possession of a firearm can mean five years behind bars and if you are found guilty of possession with intent to supply that can lead to a life sentence.
During the last national firearms surrender in 2014 more than 6,000 items were handed in to police. These included hand guns, rifles, shotguns, antique (obsolete calibre) guns and imitation firearms, as well as ammunition.
NABIS and police forces across the UK are working with partners such as the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) and the Local Government Association (LGA), to ensure the surrender fortnight of action is a success.
You can hand in any unwanted guns and ammunition into the following stations:
– Wrexham Police Station. Opening times: 8:30am – 7pm Mon to Sat. 9am – 6pm Sundays
– Mold Police Station. Opening times: 9am – 1pm & 3pm – 6pm Monday to Sat
– Rhyl Police Station. 8:30am – 7pm Mon to Sat. 9am – 6pm Sundays
– Llandudno Police Station. 9am – 1pm & 3pm – 6pm Tues, Wed, Thursday, Friday & Saturday
– Colwyn Bay Police Station. 9am – 1pm & 3pm – 6pm Mondays
– Caernarfon Police Station. 9am – 1pm & 3pm – 6pm Monday, Wed, Fri & Saturday
– Bangor Police Station 8:30am – 7pm Mon to Sat. 9am – 6pm Sundays
– Holyhead Police Station 9am – 1pm & 3pm – 6pm Tuesdays & Thursdays
Anyone who unable to visit any of these stations is advised to contact North Wales Police on 101 to make alternative arrangements. To receive advice on how best to transport the weapon responsibly from home to their police station they are advised to phone 101 before travelling.
If you know of anyone involved with illegal firearms call police on 101 or independent charity Crimestoppers (anonymously) on 0800 555 111. If you are a licensed firearm holder who wants advice please contact the North Wales Police Firearms Licensing Team or follow them on Twitter @NWPFALicensing or Facebook
More information about NABIS can be found online or follow them on Twitter @NABIS_UK