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Police campaign encourages gun owners to surrender firearms

Gun owners are being encouraged to give them up as part of a two week long firearms surrender.

Thames Valley Police is joining police forces across the country for a Firearms and Ammunition Surrender, which started on Monday.

Ch Insp Emma Baillie, head of armed response for the Joint Operations Unit for Hampshire and Thames Valley, said there is always the risk guns could wind up in the wrong hands.

“Any firearm that isn’t licensed or stored correctly is a risk,” she said.

“The consequences could be fatal if they got into the wrong hands.”

The last surrender was held in 2015 and saw 6,000 firearms handed in across the Thames Valley.

People will not face prosecution for the illegal possession of weapons in the two weeks and can remain anonymous.

But, as it is not an amnesty, if a surrendered firearm reveals a link to a crime it will be investigated.

Ch Insp Baillie, who has been in the role for five months, said the force is also encouraging people to give up imitation firearms which can be used to cause fear in communities.

“The threat of terrorism is always a consideration,” she said.

She added: “While crimes involving firearms in the Thames Valley region are rare, we know that every firearm poses a potential threat if they are not licensed and stored safely.

“The fight against gun crime is stronger than ever.

“We take all reports of incidents involving firearms extremely seriously and robust action will be taken against anyone who commits a firearms related offence.”

Anyone worried about handling a weapon can contact police on 101 first for advice or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.

The surrender will take place until November 26, with Maidenhead and Slough police stations open from 8am-10pm every day.

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