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Firearms amnesty launched as police urge public to hand in guns and ammunition

By Flaminia Luck

North East residents are being urged to hand over illegal firearms and ammunition during a two-week gun amnesty.

Known as Operation Aztec, the two-week surrender is taking place across England, Scotland and Wales, and aims to encourage people to hand in firearms and ammunition to their local police force.

Weapons handed in during previous firearms amnesties have included shotguns, air rifles, air pistols and revolvers. Many firearms are held in innocence and ignorance of their illegality or are overlooked and forgotten in people’s homes.

READ MORE: Banned Darlington driver led police on second high-speed chase weeks after first arrest

Some are held legally and are no longer required. Others are acquired and distributed by criminal networks to harm, threaten and intimidate their local communities. The surrender gives people the chance to dispose of firearms or ammunition by simply taking them to a local police station and handing them over.

Surrendering unwanted, unlicensed and illegal firearms avoids the risk of them becoming involved in criminality and means that members of the community can dispose of them in a safe place.

The surrender runs until May 29 and during the period, those surrendering firearms will not face prosecution for the illegal possession at the point of surrender and can remain anonymous.

The last surrender in 2019 saw 54 firearms surrendered along with a quantity of ammunition. The weapons recovered included 16 shotguns, 11 air rifles, 10 air pistols and three revolvers.

Once handed in, weapons will be forensically examined and then either destroyed or given to museums and exhibitions.

Superintendent David Pickett, from Northumbria Police, who is leading on the surrender, said: "While incidents involving firearms are rare in our area, we recognise the impact these types of offences can have on our communities and when they do occur we are committed to using every tactic at our disposal to bring offenders to justice.

“Where we can we want to prevent offences from occurring in the first place, and this national initiative can help achieve that – by giving people the chance to dispose of firearms in a safe way. One firearm handed in is one less that could potentially be used to harm or threaten our communities.

"If you have a firearm, now is your chance to dispose of it safely, or if you know of one being kept illegally please tell us so we can take action – you could help save a life.”

He added: “This firearms surrender is very much an extension of the work which goes on throughout the year to protect the communities we are privileged to serve. Our work alongside partners to safeguard and educate the public and disrupt serious and organised criminality is ongoing.

"Together we can all help ensure that the North East remains one of the safest places in the country to live, work and visit."

Weapons can be handed into the following stations in the North East:

  • Southwick (Sunderland)
  • Forth Banks (Newcastle)
  • Middle Engine Lane (Wallsend)

Visit our website for opening hours and further information on the surrender.

If you know of anyone involved with illegal firearms call police on 101 or the independent charity Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.

If you are a licensed firearm holder who wants advice, please contact your local force. For more information about NABIS visit www.nabis.police.uk

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Dive Deeper:
People urged to hand in guns and ammo as huge shooting crackdown launched
Greater Manchester Police say they are 'determined to rid lethal weapons from our streets'
Two week-long firearms amnesty launched across Greater Manchester to take deadly weapons off the streets and save lives
'Firearms can always come into the wrong hands and by giving a firearm up, you may be saving a life'
Police gun 'surrender' begins in Bristol and nationwide
"You will not be prosecuted and you could save a life."
Police launch surrender campaign for unlicensed firearms and ammo
COPS have called for people in possession of firearms and ammunition without a valid licence to give them up.
One subscription that gives you access to news from hundreds of sites
Firearms amnesty launched to take dangerous weapons off Stirling's streets
People in possession of guns without a valid licence are being asked to surrender them to police in Stirling. The…
Gangsters 'could have hidden a gun in your garden' detectives warn
Merseyside Police say there have been recent cases of guns being stashed in the gardens of completely oblivious residents
Get all your news in one place