POLICE have launched a campaign urging Merseyside people in possession of illegal firearms to hand them in over the next two weeks.

This year's surrender, co-ordinated by the National Ballistics Intelligence Service (NABIS), ends on Sunday, May 29.

During that period, people can hand over any firearms and ammunition by calling 101. They will not face prosecution for illegal possession at the point of surrender and can remain anonymous.

During the last national surrender in August 2019, a total of 131 weapons were handed in on Merseyside, including 22 workable firearms, as well as ammunition.

A further 14 live guns, nine BB guns, 12 air weapons and a quantity of ammunition were collected last year when Merseyside Police launched a county-wide firearms surrender following changes to antique gun legislation.

This change in law means it is no longer legal in some cases to own specific firearms without a license. Those who do not meet the relevant ownership requirements can face a five-year jail sentence or more if convicted.

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Firearms surrendered during 2021 Merseyside Police campaign when gun law changed

Detective Chief Superintendent and head of investigations Mark Kameen said: "Many people who have firearms in their possession may have them stored away at home, and may even have forgotten they have them.

"But please be aware that you could be breaking the law by storing it if found to be in possession of a firearm without a licence.

"If your property is burgled and a weapon you are storing finds its way into the wrong hands, it could be used to threaten, injure or even kill someone so every time a weapon is taken out of circulation, our streets are made safer.

"Unfortunately we have seen the devastating effect gun crime has on families and communities in Merseyside when someone is killed or injured.

"This firearms surrender campaign gives people the opportunity to prevent further harm from being brought to our streets, by disposing of their firearm and ammunition in a responsible and safe way by calling 101 and arranging for an officer to collect it."

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Det Chief Supt Kameen (pictured, above) added: "This firearms surrender lasts for two weeks, but Merseyside Police carries out targeted activity 365 days a year to disrupt those prepared to store, carry or use firearms, remove firearms from circulation and put offenders before the courts.

"Stop searches are carried out across Merseyside, open spaces are searched for weapons, and warrants are executed at addresses – with suspects arrested and weapons recovered as a result.

"The public can play a key role in our efforts, and we are urging our communities to help in the fight to take firearms off our streets by checking your gardens and alleyways for firearms that could be concealed away by gangs."

Members of the public may see an increase in police activity during the two-week campaign while operational work is carried out such as open land searches.

Additional activities taking place include letters being sent out to registered firearms holders and followed up by visits, letters and visits to dealers and gun clubs to support the campaign who will then spread the message to members.

Wirral Globe:

Firearms surrendered during 2021 Merseyside Police campaign when gun law changed

Merseyside Police is leading the campaign on behalf of other forces in the North West, who also have activities planned over the two-week period.

Mr Kameen continued: "Through all of our activity and with the public's help, we have driven down the number of discharges in Merseyside - in the year-ending March there were 39 firearms discharges in the region which is the lowest figure for 21 years.

"But every single incident is one too many, and I would like to reassure everyone that we are doing everything we can to take more guns off our streets, and are determined and relentless in our pursuit to continue to reduce this number.

"We need the public to help get these destructive weapons off our streets and appeal for people to check under their gardens, sheds, alleyways and areas where firearms could be hidden away.

"It is thanks to the public that we have removed 63 weapons off the streets in the last year."

To arrange an appointment for a firearm to be collected call police on 101, and this can be at a location of their choice.