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13 April 2010, 06:00
Heart's been told how many firearms have been handed in so far in a North Hampshire Gun Amnesty.
People in North Hampshire have an extra two days to hand in firearms and ammunition as part of an amnesty being run by the police. It means anyone with a firearm can hand it in at one of nine police stations in North Hampshire and walk away.
Since its launch on Friday April 2nd, Heart's been told, 57 firearms and 985 rounds of ammunition have been handed in at the nine stations taking part. The firearms include 22 air pistols and BB guns, nine air rifles and three shotguns.
The amnesty was due to finish on April 16 but has now been extended until Sunday April 18 due to the success so far.
Chief Superintendent Mark Chatterton, Commander of the North and East Operational Command Unit, said: “We launched this amnesty in response to community concerns about gun ownership and a lack of knowledge about handing firearms in and we have seen a really good response so far.
“This is not about violent crime; in fact Hampshire Constabulary is rated excellent at suppressing gun crime in the police report card. We are fortunate to live and work in a very safe place and in the last year there were only 26 incidents across the whole of north east Hampshire where a gun was reported to have been involved in a crime against a person.
“As we anticipated, a large number of the weapons handed in so far are BB guns or imitation firearms. Almost 70 per cent of all incidents that our firearms officers attend involve knives and imitation firearms and one hour of policing a firearms incident costs the equivalent of 27 hours of local beat policing.
“Some of the guns that we seize are so realistic that a firearms officer would not immediately be able to decide if it were real, and therefore have to treat every gun incident as if the weapon is real.
“I am pleased that people have walked into the police station and handed these weapons in so they do not end up being used in a crime. I would urge anyone who has a firearm or ammunition that they shouldn’t have to take advantage of these extra few days and hand it in.”
At the launch of the Firearms Amnesty, the father of a woman who was shot dead along with her daughter in Aldershot just after Christmas pleaded with anyone who has a gun to give it up. Reg Harrison said it is the best way for something positive to come of his daughter and grand-daughter's tragic deaths, "If anything good comes out of this, it would be that nobody else would lose loved ones in this way."
Listen to Reg Harrison's full statement
Reg Harrison's daughter, Julie, was killed along with her four year old daughter, Maisie, on 29th December 2009 by Julie's former partner and Maisie's father, Andrew Copland. He then turned the gun on himself.
At the inquest into the triple shootings, it was revealed the gun used was found by Andrew in a skip when he worked as a builder in Frimley Green in 1998. It is not known why he kept it.
Chief Superintendent Mark Chatterton told Heart they are hoping to take positive from the tragedy, "It has certainly been emotionally draining for all my staff. It just seemed an appropriate way to get some positive activity from something that has been so terrible."
Listen to the full interview with Ch. Supt. Mark Chatterton
Chief Superintendent Mark Chatterton explained how the amnesty works: "The purpose of this amnesty is to target the unlawful possession of firearms and ammunition and remove these weapons from people’s homes so that they do not end up being used in a crime.
"It may be that a member of your family brought back trophy weapons or ammunition after serving in a war, or as a souvenir, and these have ended up in a loft or a cupboard. It is almost certain that these are being unlawfully held and I would urge people to take advantage of our amnesty and hand them in."
Nine police stations are involved in the amnesty. These are: