‘Call us and we will collect it’: Police advice for the safe and legal disposal of old firearms
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Northamptonshire Police is sharing advice on how to safely and legally surrender old or antique firearms or other dangerous items which may be inherited when loved ones pass away.
The Force regularly deals with requests to dispose of old guns, ammunition and other weapons, but is aware some people may be wary of handing such items in because they are worried they may get into trouble for having them.
Officers are aiming to reassure and educate people on what to do if they have or inherit an unwanted or unlicensed firearm or ammunition – simply call police on 101 and ask to arrange for its collection.
Detective Chief Inspector Steve Watkins, of the Force’s Intelligence Department, said: “We know that old guns often lie undisturbed in homes for many years – some people are worried that they will be in trouble if they hand them in, others are passed down to family members when someone dies. Sometimes the first a family knows about such old firearms is when they are clearing up the personal effects of an elderly loved one that has passed away.
“Our message is, if you have anything like this, or find it when clearing out someone’s possessions, please phone us on 101 so we can come and collect it and safely dispose of it.
“While we do make checks to ensure items haven’t been used in criminal activity, if you can account for the item’s history it is simply a case of letting us know what you have and us collecting it, so it can be securely destroyed – giving you peace of mind and ensuring it can’t ever fall into the wrong hands and pose a danger to others.”
He added that people should not bring items to police stations themselves, as to do so carries a risk to the public and may also inadvertently constitute a criminal offence.
The ‘call us’ advice also extends to old explosives, such as wartime ordnance, as the Force will liaise with the Army’s Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) team to safely collect and dispose of them.
The importance of doing this was highlighted last month when a member of the public brought a bag full of old hand grenades into Weston Favell police station, sparking an evacuation while the EOD made sure they were safe.
DCI Watkins said: “If you come across anything you think may be any form of explosive, our advice is always leave it exactly where you found it, don’t touch it, and call us immediately.
“Whether you dig it up in your garden, pull it out of a waterway while magnet fishing, or find it in your grandad’s attic, don’t take any chances with your safety and let the experts deal with it.”
Officers are also keen to remind people that conducted energy devices, also known as stun guns or Tasers, are illegal to possess in the UK, and can be surrendered using the same process as for old firearms.
New legislation from the Home Office covers the possession of obsolete calibre weapons and ammunition which may affect items owned by private collectors, and officers are also able to advise people on what they can still legally possess, and what needs deactivating to avoid them breaking the law. Read more here.
If you have any form of firearm or other weapon you wish to dispose of, call Northamptonshire Police on 101 to discuss having it safely collected and destroyed.
The hand grenades taken to Weston Favell police station in September, pictured after they were confirmed safe by EOD experts.