Kent Police urge public to hand in weapons

Contributed by editor on Apr 02, 2008 - 10:51 AM

Kent Police is launching a weapons surrender as part of the Safer Spring campaign.

Anyone can hand in any type of weapon, from bladed instruments to firearms, real or imitation, to police.

Weapons can be handed in at local police stations but in addition, Neighbourhood officers can be contacted to arrange a visit to people’s homes to take the weapons from them safely. This can also be used as an opportunity for people to raise any issues or concerns they have within their communities with their neighbourhood officers.

The scheme runs from 25 March until 20 April, and follows a similar initiative by the Metropolitan Police Service launched in January of this year.

Superintendent Peter Wedlake of the Force’s Partnership and Crime Reduction department said: ‘It is important to note that crime involving weapons in Kent is very low. However, we want to take as many weapons as possible off the streets of Kent. Any weapon handed to police is one that cannot be used in crime.

‘This is also an opportunity for anyone who has a weapon they think may be illegal or do not want to keep in their possession any longer to hand it to police, thereby ensuring its safe disposal. We would urge people to ring or visit their local police station to make an appointment for an officer to visit their address at their convenience to remove that weapon safely. Alternatively, please call at your local police station to hand over your unwanted weapons.’

The scheme follows a successful knife amnesty run by Kent Police in 2006, where people responded very positively to the disposal of knives. Just under 4000 bladed instruments were handed in to local police stations throughout the campaign.

During the campaign, Kent Police will be working closely with Kent and Medway Trading Standards, and visiting retailers to educate them on selling knives and ball bearing guns.

It is illegal to manufacture, import or sell realistic imitation guns. Action will be taken against anyone selling knives or imitation firearms illegally.

Officers will also be working with the Local Education Authorities, distributing leaflets and posters to secondary schools to educate students on this weapons surrender. Officers will continue to push key education messages around the county, which will include clear messages about what can happen if you are caught carrying a weapon.

Carrying a knife can result in a prison sentence of six months and/or a £5,000 fine. Carrying an imitation firearm can result in a prison sentence of 12 months - this applies to BB guns, blank firing pistols, cap guns, collectibles, ‘airsoft’ guns, airguns and other items that resemble a gun.

Superintendent Wedlake continued: ‘Anyone carrying a weapon illegally will be dealt with by police and the courts. Carrying a weapon will not be tolerated. Imitation guns can look very realistic and can create fear and distress in the community. It is illegal to carry any weapon in public, whether it is a realistic imitation or not, and armed police could be called to respond.

‘Research shows that if you carry a weapon you are in danger of becoming a victim yourself, or being arrested by police and facing a prison sentence. We want to make Kent a safer place in which to live and this campaign is a chance for anyone to hand in any weapon they are in possession of.’

Anyone wanting details on how to surrender weapons should contact their local police station.

Anyone wishing to report the misuse of weapons or who has any information on illegal weapons or crime can also contact Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111. Calls to Crimestoppers are free and you could be eligible for a cash reward.