A MAJOR cache of weapons and ammunition has been handed to a North-East police force.

In a month-long amnesty by Durham Constabulary, people surrendered more than 150 handguns, rifles and shotguns; as well as a crossbow and nearly 200 knives, swords and other implements.

The weapons were handed in at police stations across County Durham and Darlington.

Among the handguns given up were Colt revolvers carried by British and American forces in the Second World War.

Acting Assistant Chief Constable Derek Hall said: "We are absolutely delighted with the results.

"The amnesty was the first of its kind in Durham since the reorganisation of the police service in 1974, and has been an unparalleled success.

"It has also served to underline the worrying fact that there are still a great many guns and other weapons in circulation - many of them in the hands of law-abiding people.

"We hope our appeal will have raised awareness of the enormity of the problem and the very real dangers these weapons can pose."

The Home Office-backed amnesty resulted in the submission of 18 live firing rifles and handguns, 35 shotguns, 83 air pistols and 24 imitation weapons.

More than 1,000 live rounds were received, along with 250 shotgun cartridges, 350 blank rounds and about 6,000 air gun pellets.

Mr Hall said: "A steady stream of about 1,000 weapons are handed into the force during the course of a year.

"The 348 given up during October have made all our efforts well worthwhile, and we thank those people who responded."

The weapons will be examined by firearms specialists and those with no historical or forensic value, along with the ammunition, will be destroyed.