Two week gun amnesty planned for Essex

Gun surrenders in other counties have proved a success. Library file picture from the Metropolitan P

Gun surrenders in other counties have proved a success. Library file picture from the Metropolitan Police. PA photo: Peter Jordan - Credit: PA

Essex Police is holding a fortnight-long gun amnesty following a change in the law.

The “gun surrender period” from the force comes as new legislation makes it illegal for some people to hold antique weapons.

However Essex Police is inviting guns of any type to be handed in to them during the initiative, including stun guns, air weapons, imitation firearms and CS gas or pepper spray.

Although people who drop off guns will be immune from prosecution for possession of the gun at that point in time, it does not protect them from potential charges if the gun is found to have been involved in crime after forensic tests.

Assistant Chief Constable Matthew Horne said: “We are looking for public support to get as many guns off the streets and out of potential criminal circulation as we can. Every gun given up is one less that criminals can use.

“The illegal possession of firearms in Essex has remained fairly constant over the past five years at around 330 offences per year. This covers the whole range of firearms including air weapons and pepper spray and we believe this gun surrender could help reduce that number significantly.

“The tragic death of PC Ian Dibell, who was shot dead while trying to disarm a man in Clacton in 2012, is an all too recent reminder of the fatal consequences that can come from the possession of guns.”

The initiative runs from 8am on Friday (November 7) until 11pm on Friday November 21.

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In north Essex Colchester, Clacton and Chelmsford police stations will be open to receive firearms,

Antique weapons are exempt from licensing laws as the ammunition to use them is now obsolete. However there has been evidence of criminal gangs making their own bullets to use in them.

Mr Horne added: “There are probably a number of people with heirloom guns that date back decades which may be kept in a drawer or the attic.

“I would ask these people to consider whether they still need to hold on to them. If you don’t then we will happily take them off your hands and make sure they are appropriately disposed of.

“If you wish to bring in a firearm then it is very important to make sure that any ammunition has been removed before you do. If you are unfamiliar with how to do this then you should not attempt to try it.

“Call Essex Police on 101, we will come to your home, assess the weapon and make sure that any bullets are removed and there is no danger to anyone.

“We do not want people to put themselves, or others, at risk by carrying loaded weapons into police stations or trying to unload them without the knowledge to do so.”

Anyone planning to bring in an unloaded weapon is advised to place it in a bag or holdall so they do not alarm other members of the public.