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10 November 2014, 08:48
A two week gun amnesty has been launched across Norfolk and Suffolk.
Officers are asking people to get rid of their firearms and ammunition anonymously between 10th and 21st November in a bid to reduce the risk of guns falling into the wrong hands and ultimately reduce gun crime.
During that period people will be able to hand over unlicensed weapons without fear of prosecution.
People who have received an unlicensed gun through inheritance, or those who legally own a gun that they no longer have a use for, are some of the people being urged to surrender their firearms during the amnesty.
Richard Kennett, Firearms Licensing Manager for Norfolk and Suffolk Constabularies, said: "Some people may have un-registered, old weapons that they have forgotten about, that they no longer have a use for, or that they don’t know what to do with. Although such weapons aren’t being used for crimes, it’s important that they are handed over to the police to stop them from falling into the wrong hands.
"Fortunately we don’t have a big problem with gun crime in Norfolk and Suffolk, and reducing the amount of illegally owned firearms across the counties will help reduce the threat of gun crime even further,” added Richard.
The gun amnesty comes following changes to legislation which has seen the maximum sentence for owning an illegal gun increasing.
It also means that some gun owners who were previously able to hold a firearm may no longer be legally allowed to do so; for example, someone who has been sentenced to a custodial or suspended sentence of more than three months can no longer possess a firearm, including antiques, and these people are amongst those being encouraged to hand over their firearms during the amnesty.
People can surrender their firearms at any police station in Norfolk and Suffolk during the amnesty. They should make sure that their gun is unloaded and covered up, and if possible people are asking to ring police beforehand on 101 to let them know that they will be bringing a gun in.
If police suspect that the weapon has been used in a crime, then its history will be searched and prosecutions could be made in relation to any investigations that the weapon is linked to.
Tim Passmore, the Police and Crime Commissioner for Suffolk Constabulary, said: "It’s really important that all firearms are licensed and safely stored otherwise they could end up in the wrong hands.
"In a rural county such as Suffolk there may be many reasons why people legally have a firearm in their possession. However, many have firearms that may be no longer be needed or wanted, and licences may have expired, making them illegally held.
"I would urge anyone with an illegally held firearm to hand these weapons in. The amnesty means there will be no need for any explanation and no need to leave your details. The main thing is the firearms are not at risk of falling into the wrong hands.”
Stephen Bett, Police and Crime Commissioner for Norfolk Constabulary, said: "I welcome this move. As well as those legal firearms across Norfolk, we know that there are a lot of unregistered guns, perhaps in people's lofts or garages. This is an opportunity for people who do have such firearms to bring them to the Constabulary to be dealt with appropriately and I would urge people to take advantage of the amnesty."
For further advice on the amnesty, please visit www.norfolk.police.ukor www.suffolk.police.ukor contact the firearms department by calling 101.
For more details about the firearms legislation changes visit the National Ballistics Intelligence Service (NABIS) website http://www.nabis.police.uk/Legislation