West Midlands Police launches firearms surrender in bid to tackle gun crime
West Midlands Police has launched a firearms surrender - the first in more than three years - as part of its campaign to tackle gun crime in the region.
The surrender, from Friday 15 September to Sunday 1 October, is being run as a pilot ahead of a national firearms surrender in November and means people can hand in any firearm - including handguns, shotguns, rifles, BB guns, imitations, ammunition or antiques - without fear of being prosecuted for gun possession.
Weapons can be surrendered at any West Midlands Police station or by calling the force on 101 and arranging for officers to make home visits.
It’s hoped the move will stop unused shotguns or antique firearms - often World War relics gathering dust in loft spaces - from potentially falling into the hands of criminals.
Detective Chief Inspector Rich Agar urged anyone with information on the whereabouts of firearms to support the surrender.
He added: "The laws on illegal firearms have recently been toughened up and anyone found in possession of a gun can now be jailed for five years.
"Past experience tells us there will be people in the West Midlands who, out of misguided loyalty, are storing guns for partners, relatives or friends. They are risking time behind bars, even if they have no intention of using the gun themselves; they need to contact us during the window of this surrender before it’s too late.
"We can make arrangements to discreetly collect firearms so I’d urge people to get in touch.
"The problem of antique weapons is another emerging threat we’re addressing - there could potentially be thousands of World War II guns unaccounted for. Criminals can reactivate these guns and an ‘underground’ armourer provide bespoke ammunition - so please hand these in and don’t risk them falling into criminal hands.
"Every gun taken off the streets is potentially a life saved."
The last West Midlands Police firearms surrender in July 2014 saw the seizure of 131 firearms and more than 1,000 rounds of ammunition.
The haul included viable handguns like .38mm revolvers, self-loading pistols and a .44 Ruger Redhawk magnum, plus historic service weapons like Webley and Enfield revolvers, a 1915 German Luger, a Smith & Wesson and a Japanese type 26 revolver.
There were 17 fatal shootings in the West Midlands in the five years between 2004 and 2009 but that fell to nine between 2009 and 2014. Since 2015 there has been seven.
But anyone found in possession of a gun, even if they have no intention of ever pulling the trigger, is running the risk of many years behind bars.
In 2015, a woman persuaded a friend to hide her gangster boyfriend’s pistol at her home in Handsworth - both women were later jailed for five years.
DCI Agar added: "Saying ‘it’s not my gun’ is no defence; if you hold onto a firearm for someone else you can expect to spend many years behind bars away from friends, family… your own children.
"If people feel they are being pressurised into storing weapons then we can help them - we can offer support to get away from that situation. Call us on 101 or call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555111."
Police and Crime Commissioner David Jamieson said: "I would urge people to hand in their weapons. Any weapon in the wrong hands can have a devastating impact.
"It is no exaggeration to say that each weapon we retrieve has the potential to save a life.
"In addition to handing weapons in at police stations there are also weapon surrender bins where people can dispose of their weapons anonymously.
"If you or a family member possess an illegal firearm please put it in one of the many weapon surrender bins. It might just be the best decision you ever make. The message is clear, don’t carry a weapon, it is no way to protect yourself and ultimately there is a much greater chance that it will put you in even more harm.
"These weapons can do immense harm and the more weapons we can get off the streets the better and the safer we will all be."
Guns can be surrendered anonymously but the history of live weapons handed in will be checked for any evidence of criminal use; the firearms will either be destroyed at the West Midlands Police armoury or retained for training exercises.
Guns can be taken to any one of the ten police stations across the West Midlands but people are advised to check station opening times in advance.
To receive advice on how best to transport the weapon responsibly from home to the police station phone 101 before travelling. Anyone unable to reach a police station is also advised to call 101 and arrangements can be made to collect the weapon.
If you suspect anyone to be involved in illegal firearms call West Midlands Police on 101 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555111.
Stations where firearms can be surrendered:
• Birmingham Central (24hrs)
• Brierley Hill
• West Bromwich
• Coventry Central
• Sutton Coldfield