Anyone possessing unwanted guns or ammunition are being encouraged to hand them in as part of a campaign to make Sussex a safer place.
Police say that many firearms are held in innocence and ignorance of their illegality, or are overlooked and forgotten in people’s homes.
Others are acquired and distributed by criminal networks to harm, threaten and intimidate their local communities.
This appeal gives people the chance to dispose of firearms or ammunition by simply handing them in at their local police station without repercussion.
The surrender, which runs from Monday November 13 to Sunday November 26, forms part of a national campaign by the National Ballistics Intelligence Service (NABIS).
The aim of the operation, supported by Sussex and Surrey Police, is to reduce the number of illegally held firearms in circulation which could fall into the hands of criminals.
This includes replica firearms, air weapons, BB guns, imitation firearms, antique guns, component parts and other ballistic items.
Sussex Police Detective Chief Inspector Steve Rayland said: “If you have any guns or ammunition you no longer want, or if you don’t know what to do with them or how to safely dispose of them, we can help. By surrendering your weapons now, it will prevent them falling into the hands of criminals and endangering the public.
“We recognise that firearms or replica weapons in the wrong hands can assist in the commission of serious offences, can increase community fears, can result in a significant drain on police resources responding to incidents, and can present a potential risk to armed officers confronting an individual in possession of a weapon they believe to be real.
“While crimes involving firearms in both Sussex and Surrey are extremely rare, we understand that every weapon poses a potential threat if not licensed and stored safely. That’s why we’re offering people this opportunity to safely hand in their unwanted weapons which, if in the wrong hands, could be deadly.
“During the surrender we want people to hand in illegally-held guns and ammunition, imitation firearms and air guns used for criminal purposes, other unwanted guns and ammunition including air guns and imitations, and firearms you are being asked to hide for someone else. If you have a gun that falls into any of these categories, now is your chance to hand it in.”
Police say that during the two-week campaign, those surrendering firearms will not face prosecution for the illegal possession upon surrender, and can remain anonymous.
They add that lawful gun licence-holders can be reassured that these measures merely enhance their rights and privileges to own firearms, by removing the dangerous ones from the wrong hands. They are also encouraged to use this campaign to consider the surrender of weapons they no longer have any use for.
Detective Chief Insp Rayland added: “I’d like to clarify that this is a firearms surrender and not a general firearms amnesty for the lifetime of the firearm; an amnesty will be granted for police possession of an item only at the point of handover (surrender).
“The fight against gun crime is stronger than ever, and we are working with partners and our local communities to safeguard, educate and intervene at the earliest opportunity. We take all reports of incidents involving firearms extremely seriously, and robust action will be taken against anyone who commits a firearms related offence.”
Weapons should be handed to police station front counter staff. A list of designated stations and their opening times can be found below.
If someone is unable to travel to a police station they should contact police via 101 and arrange for the firearm to be collected.
Battle: Mon-Fri 10am-2pm;
Bexhill: Mon-Fri 10am-2pm / 3pm-6pm;
Burgess Hill: Mon-Fri 10am-2pm;
Bognor Regis: Mon-Fri 10am-2pm / 3pm-6pm;
Brighton: Mon-Sun 10am-6pm;
Chichester: Mon-Sat 9am-8pm;
Crawley; Mon-Sat 9am-8pm;
Crowborough: Mon-Fri 10am-2pm;
Eastbourne (Hammonds Drive): Mon-Fri 9am-5pm;
Hailsham: Mon-Fri 10am-2pm / 3pm-6pm;
Hastings: Mon-Fri 9am-4pm;
Haywards Heath: Mon-Fri 10am-2pm / 3pm-6pm;
Horsham: Mon-Fri 10am-2pm / 3pm-6pm;
Lewes: Mon-Fri 10am-2pm;
Littlehampton: Mon-Fri 10am-2pm / 3pm-6pm;
Midhurst: Mon-Fri 10am-2pm;
Rye: Mon-Fri 10am-2pm;
Seaford: Mon-Fri 10am-2pm;
Shoreham: Mon-Fri 10am-2pm / 3pm-6pm;
Uckfield: Mon-Fri 10am-2pm;
Worthing (Chatsworth Road): Mon-Sat 9am-8pm.