ESSEX Police are launching a two-week firearms surrender to make Essex safer and prevent guns from falling into the wrong hands.
It will run from Monday, November 13 until on Sunday, November 26.
During the surrender we are encouraging you to hand in unwanted or unlicensed firearms, ammunition, imitation firearms, and air or gas-powered weapons to one of eight police stations.
If you surrender firearms you will not face prosecution for illegally possessing them. You can also choose to remain anonymous when handing the items in.
The history of each live weapon will be checked though to see if they have been involved in a crime.
Detective Chief Superintendent Rob Fordham said: “In the last three years we’ve seen a concerning rise in the number of offences involving a firearm – from 768 to 900.
“Guns can have a devastating impact on people’s lives as shown by the death of John Pordage in Chelmsford in August.
“This surrender will give you the opportunity to safely dispose of any unwanted or unlicensed firearms and ammunition safely, ensuring they do not fall into the wrong hands.
“There are many responsible firearms license holders in Essex, but there’ve been a number of changes to the law in recent years and people may not be aware of how they’re affected.
“This surrender also gives you the opportunity to hand in any guns you may have inherited from elderly relatives or friends which are not actually legal for you to possess.”
Weapons can be surrendered at front counters at the police stations in Basildon, Braintree, Chelmsford, Clacton, Colchester, Harlow, Grays and Southend but you are asked to call ahead on 101 so they can be advised on how best to transport the item.
You can also use the 101 service to arrange for a police officer to collect the weapon.
Det Chief Supt Fordham added: “As well as real firearms, we are also keen for you to hand in imitation firearms, air weapons and BB guns.
“It can be almost impossible to tell the difference between an imitation firearm and a real one, but when you’re faced with one the fear and concern it causes it just the same.
“This amnesty will help make Essex safer and reduce the chance a member of the public will come face-to-face with one”.
Changes to the Anti-social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014 now prohibits you from possessing firearms or ammunition for a period of five years if you have previously served custodial or suspended sentences of between three months and three years.
If you have served a custodial sentence of more than three years you are permanently prohibited.
Additionally, while the Firearms Act 1968 allows antique firearms to be possessed without a certificate as a “curiosity or ornament”, the changes to the law in 2014 now means that if you are prohibited from possessing firearms you will be unable to possess antique weapons.