KEEPING guns out of the hands of criminals is the aim of a firearms surrender taking place in Warwickshire.
It will allow residents to safely dispose of a firearm or ammunition by handing it in at police stations in Leamington, Rugby and Nuneaton from Saturday (July 20) until Sunday August 4.
The aim is to reduce the number of illegal or unlicensed firearms in circulation and to stop them falling into the hands of criminals.
Seventy-four firearms and 32 lots of ammunition were handed in across Warwickshire during the last surrender in 2017.
People surrendering firearms will not be required to leave any information, but if police suspect a weapon may have been involved in a crime, they will examine it for evidence.
All surrendered weapons will be destroyed and in exceptional circumstances, if the weapon has historical value, it may be donated to a museum.
Illegal possession of a firearm can result in a five years behind bars, and if guilty of possession with intent to supply, it could lead to a life sentence.
Supt Mike Smith said: “Compared with other areas of the country we don’t have a significant gun problem, but we are keen to support this national campaign to help keep our communities safe.
“The whole aim is to remove any firearms that could potentially be used in a crime from public circulation.
“There have also been some law changes recently and some firearms that used to be legal to possess are now illegal so we would advise people to check the government website for any changes in the law.
“Our policing area has a number of licensed firearms owners, and this is an opportunity for them to hand in old weapons or guns they do not require.
“The majority of the firearms handed in during the last surrender were older items the owner no longer needed and wanted to safely dispose of.
“People may have older or historical weapons stored in lofts or garages, which have been inherited or passed down through the family, and these can also be disposed of during the surrender.
“While these are not being used for criminal activities, they can, and sometimes do, fall into the wrong hands and can then be used to commit crimes.
“Every firearm surrendered is one less weapon that could be used to commit crime.”
Anyone handing an item in is advised to call 101 and notify police of the time and station they will be attending.