THE public are being given two weeks to hand in an unlawfully-held firearms to police, in an effort to cut violent crime.

The fortnight long national firearms surrender (from Saturday, July 20 to Sunday, August 4), will see forces across the UK ask the public to surrender unlawfully held or unwanted guns and ammunition to prevent them from getting into criminal hands.

St Helens Police Station will be accepting any surrendered firearms.

During the last national surrender in November 2017 a total of 122 weapons and lots of ammunition were handed in across Merseyside, including 30 viable firearms, an Uzi BB replica gun, smoke canisters and a smoke grenade.

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 focus of this year’s campaign will be on illegal or prohibited items which have been purchased while out of the country or via the internet or items that may have been within a family network such as war trophies, gifts or heirlooms.

They are also looking to protect vulnerable people who we know are often subjected to violence/bribery or threats in order to hold or store firearms, ammunition or prohibited weapons.

Detective Chief Superintendent Mark Kameen said: “We know at first hand that gun crime devastates communities and destroys families.

“Earlier this month we launched Operation Target which is our pledge to tackle serious and violent crime. Removing guns from the hands of criminals forms part of that pledge.

“We are not under any illusion that criminals will willingly hand over weapons but we know that many firearms are held in innocence and ignorance of their illegality or are overlooked and forgotten in people’s homes.

"The surrender gives members of the public the chance to dispose of a firearm or ammunition by simply taking it to a local designated police station and handing it in.

“We are also committed to protecting the most vulnerable members of our community. We know that criminals often try to take advantage of them and coerce them into hiring or storing weapons or ammunition.

"If you believe that someone you know could be at risk of this then please tell us so that we can take action.”

Merseyside’s Police Commissioner Jane Kennedy added: “I have seen too many times the devastation that the use of guns has brought to families and communities.

"Gun surrenders provide an important opportunity for people to hand in firearms to the police and prevent them being used and endangering the public.

“I join Merseyside Police in urging people to take this chance to surrender your weapon. Every gun given up is one less that poses a threat to the safety of our communities.

"This initiative allows those in possession of a gun, who do not want to be responsible for what would happen if it was used, to do the right thing.”

Detective Chief Superintendent Mark Kameen added: “We have already had a great deal of success in removing a number of weapons from our streets but we know that there is still a considerable amount of work to be done.

“This surrender will run alongside the pro-active work that our officers do every single day to take guns and the criminals who use them off our streets but we also need the communities help by handing over weapons that potentially could fall into the wrong hands and be used to cause fear and intimidation. Every gun surrendered is one less that can be used by criminals to commit serious offences.

“Merseyside Police continues to be relentless in its efforts to tackle all forms of serious and organised crime and bring those responsible before the courts.

“We will act on every single piece of information that we receive and I would appeal to anyone with information on firearms, or where they are stored, to contact us as soon as possible either on the gun crime hotline on 0800 230 0600 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555111."