A POLICE force has joined a national campaign encouraging the public to hand over unwanted guns during a two week surrender of firearms and ammunition.

Durham Constabulary will work with police forces across England and Wales, to highlight the danger and illegality of these items, and remind people that possession of a weapon could lead to a prison sentence.

The surrender is an opportunity to dispose of weapons by handing them in at designated police stations.

During the campaign period, those handing over firearms will not face prosecution for the illegal possession – at the point of surrender – and can remain anonymous if they choose to.

PC Mark Outhwaite, firearms examiner at Cleveland and Durham specialist operations unit, said: “We’re fortunate that we have a very low firearms crime rate in our area, and maintaining that means keeping as many potentially dangerous items off the street as possible.

“We find that the most common items seized in the region are the likes of noxious sprays and stun devices, which are classed as firearms and are prohibited. In particular, any firearm considered to be disguised can result in a minimum five year prison sentence, so now is a great opportunity to hand them in.”

The surrender initiative is being coordinated by the National Ballistics Intelligence Service (NABIS). The surrender will run for two weeks from Saturday, July 20, to Sunday, August 4, 2019.

Detective Chief Superintendent Jo Clews, Head of NABIS, added: “Even though UK firearm offences remain at relatively low levels compared to other countries, we cannot be complacent and this surrender will help remove further potential harm from our communities.”

During Durham’s previous firearms surrender, in 2017, over sixty weapons were handed in, including shotguns, air weapons, and stun devices disguised as mobile phones and flashlights.

Also expected to be surrendered are so called ‘trophies of war’.

PC Outhwaite said: “Firearms were often brought home by soldiers after the first and Second World War and in many cases these antique weapons have remained in lofts ever since.

“If anything is handed in to us that may be of historical interest, we’ll contact the Leeds Pattern Rooms. Everything else will be destroyed once the surrender has concluded.”

Anyone handing in or transporting a firearm, ammunition or any other weapon during the surrender is advised to check the opening times of the police station nearest to them in advance by calling 101 or visiting durham.police.uk