Eastbourne residents are being urged to surrender any firearms or ammunition to police.
From Monday (November 10) until November 21, Sussex Police and Surrey Police are inviting members of the public to surrender unwanted items so they can be disposed of safely.
New legislation that came into effect on July 14 increased the maximum jail term for illegal gun possession from ten years to life. This now includes anyone who is storing a weapon for someone else. It also includes antique firearms due to the fact that obsolete weapons can be made viable by criminals with ballistics knowledge.
Police believe many gun owners may not realise the weapons they have could be illegal or the danger they pose if they fall into the wrong hands.
The campaign gives holders the chance to dispose of their firearms and ammunition safely by handing them in at a police station.
During the two week period, those surrendering firearms will not be prosecuted for offences of possessing them illegally. However each weapon may be analysed to determine if it has been used in crime and, if it has, it will be investigated.
Surrendering unwanted or unlicensed weapons avoids the risk of them becoming involved in criminality and means that people can dispose of firearms and ammunition in a safe place.
Chief Superintendent Paul Morrison, the head of operations command across both forces, said, “Gun crime in the UK has continued to fall year on year for the last ten years but we are not complacent.
“We do all we can to ensure that firearms do not fall into the hands of criminals and the public can help us. This is why we are giving this opportunity for people to dispose of unwanted guns safely.
“People may have firearms or ammunition that belong to other people, who have inherited them or who might have items they have overlooked or forgotten.
“We would encourage people to check their attics, sheds and cupboards and hand weapons in.
“A firearm might not be a danger in your hands but if it was stolen by a burglar and passed to other criminals it could put people’s lives in danger.
“You can help us by getting rid of any firearms or ammunition you have that you don’t need, both live and deactivated.”
The surrender is part of a nationwide operation being co-ordinated by the National Ballistics Intelligence Service (NABIS), which analyses guns and ballistic material for police forces across the UK.
Detective Chief Superintendent Iain O’Brien, the head of NABIS, said, “Gun amnesties provide an important opportunity for people to hand firearms over to police and prevent them falling into the hands of criminals and endangering the public.
“We are pleased that Sussex Police is running this operation and we hope as many people as possible take this opportunity to surrender their guns.”
Weapons and ammunition can be surrendered at local police stations but anyone handing in a firearm during this opportunity is advised to check the opening times of their nearest station before they set off.
Anyone wishing to hand in firearms should disarm them and put them in a box or strong bag. Ammunition should be placed in a separate box or bag.
Ensure they are covered from view on your way to a station and when you arrive tell a member of police staff that you are there to surrender a weapon before you reveal it.
Please do not hand any such items to police officers or staff in the street as they are not equipped to deal with firearms and the sight of weapons could cause unnecessary alarm to members of the community.
If you cannot take your firearm or ammunition to a station, email email@example.com or call 101 to arrange an appointment when an officer will visit you to collect it.
If you have any information about the possession of an illegal firearm or criminal activity related to weapons, email firstname.lastname@example.org, call 101 or contact the independent charity Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555111.