A 14-day firearms surrender is being launched to allow people to surrender any unwanted or unlicensed firearms and ammunition to ensure they do not fall into the hands of criminals.
It will run from 8am Monday May 16 until 5pm Sunday May 29. During this time members of the public are encouraged to hand in unwanted firearms, ammunition, imitation firearms, and air or gas-powered weapons to one of eight police stations.
In this period, anyone surrendering firearms will not face prosecution for illegal possession. They can also choose to remain anonymous when handing the items in.
However, this does not mean people are exempt from prosecution if they have committed any firearms-related offence and the history of each weapon will be checked. This is to check whether it has been linked to any crimes.
Detective Chief Inspector Rob Coan said: “Thankfully, crimes in Essex involving firearms are relatively few but we know that firearms can have a devastating impact on people’s lives.
“This amnesty will give people the opportunity to safely dispose of any unwanted or unlicensed firearms and ammunition safely, ensuring they do not fall into the wrong hands.
“It may also be that you possess a firearm legally, but you just don’t want or need it anymore and want to dispose of it safely.
“Essex has many responsible licensed firearms holders, however there have been a number of changes to the law in recent years and people may not be aware of how these changes affect them.
“There may also be people out there who have inherited weapons from elderly relatives or friends that are actually not legal for them to possess.
“This amnesty gives them the opportunity to surrender the items and not be prosecuted.”
The weapons can be surrendered locally at:
- Colchester police station
- Braintree police station
- Chelmsford police station
- Southend police station
- Basildon police station
- Grays police station
- Harlow police station
Those wishing to surrender any items are advised to call ahead on 101 so they can be advised on how best to transport the item.
Members of the public can also use the 101 service to arrange for a police officer to collect the weapon.
Det Chief Insp Coan added: “As well as real firearms, we are also keen for the public to hand in imitation firearms, air weapons and BB guns.
“Often it can be difficult to tell an imitation firearm apart from a real one, but the fear and concern felt when one is produced is just the same.”
The Anti-social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014 prohibits anyone who has previously served custodial or suspended sentences of between three months and three years from possessing firearms or ammunition for a period of five years.
Anyone who has served custodial sentences of more than three years are permanently prohibited.
Additionally, while the Firearms Act 1968 allows antique firearms to be possessed without a certificate as a “curiosity or ornament”, changes to the law in 2014 now ensures that anyone prohibited from possessing firearms will be unable to possess antique weapons.