A WEAPONS amnesty begins in Cumbria today (Monday, November 13) to allow unlawfully held or unwanted guns, knives and ammunition to be surrendered to police.

Cumbria Police is holding the surrender until November 26, as it joins other UK constabularies in urging weapons to be handed in to prevent them being used in crimes.

Superintendent Mark Pannone said: "This surrender provides an opportunity to those who possess firearms, ammunition, knives and other weapons to hand these into police.

“The last surrender of weapons in this county was in 2016 where over 300 weapons were handed in, including 216 knives. This highlights the importance that our communities place on the issue of illegal possession of weapons.

"Every weapon that is handed into police is one less in circulation that could fall into the wrong hands. The potential disastrous consequences of these weapons underline the need for those who do not want them to hand them in.”

Many firearms are held in innocence and ignorance of their illegality or are overlooked and forgotten in people’s homes. Some are acquired and distributed by criminal networks to harm, threaten and intimidate their local communities. The surrender gives the chance to dispose of the firearm or ammunition safely by simply taking it to a police station and handing it in.

Members of the public can also surrender items that have the potential to be converted such as antique guns, blank firing replicas and imitations.

The constabulary is widening the remit of the surrender to include knives and other weapons. There has been a number of high-profile cases within the county where knives have been used as part of criminality and we believe that holding a surrender can only make the county a safer place.

During that period, those handing over weapons will not face prosecution for the illegal possession, at the point of surrender, and can remain anonymous.

Illegal possession of a firearm can mean five years behind bars and if you are found guilty of possession with intent to supply that can lead to a life sentence.

The surrender is being coordinated by the National Ballistic Intelligence Service (NABIS) who offer forensic, tactical and strategic intelligence to tackle all aspects of firearms related crime.

Police stations at Kendal, Barrow, Carlisle, Penrith, Workington and Whitehaven are all participating.

Anyone wishing to hand in weapons should put them in a box or strong bag and put ammunition in a separate box or bag. Never attempt to take an uncovered weapon out in public. Members of the public are also advised to go directly to a designated station when handing in a weapon.

To check on opening times please visit: www.cumbria.police.uk/contact-us/police-stations.