A firearms surrender has been announced by Greater Manchester Police (GMP) as part of a North West movement to get guns off the streets.
Between April 4 and April 18 members of the public can hand in any unlawfully held or unwanted guns or ammunition at a local police station anonymously and without fear of prosecution.
Give Up The Gun is the first Manchester firearms surrender in two years, and it unites police forces across the North West including Merseyside Police and Lancashire Constabulary.
Deputy Police and Crime Commissioner for Greater Manchester Jim Battle described the public support for the campaign as ‘absolutely vital’.
“We’re asking for people to be courageous and brave, without the public support those weapons could well be put back into circulation, used in criminal activities and in the worst cases inflict fatalities,” he told MM.
“We’re appealing to the public, to those people who’ve got weapons and ammunition in their homes, for them to surrender it.
“Think carefully and surrender it to the police so it can be put out of harm’s way.
“Criminals do not respect police boundaries, and a weapon used in Manchester could easily travel to Preston, for example.
“That’s why we want to appeal in a wider area.
“We’re hoping that we may find weapons handed in outside of the Manchester area which have actually been discharged here.”
Since April 2014 a total of 88 firearm discharges have been recorded across Greater Manchester.
During this fiscal year there have currently been two fatalities of gun crime, the most recent being in July 2015.
However, the number of injuries in the same period as a result of firearm discharges currently stands at 17 – an increase of 11 injuries compared to the previous year.
Assistant Chief Constable John O’Hare told MM the recent increase in firearm discharges indicated to GMP that the time is right for a new surrender campaign.
“A lot of the time we find people want to be able to get rid of these things,” he said.
“Sometimes the reason they don’t is that they don’t know how, or they worry that they’ll get in trouble themselves.
“We absolutely understand that people may have concerns of any ramifications for them from handing in, too, but your conscience has to trump all of that.
“If we get one gun or bullet, it’s one less person who could get killed by it.”
Public safety and concern for younger generations points at the forefront of the campaign.
Dr Erinma Bell, MBE, a renowned peace activist and Executive Director of Chrysalis Manchester, is heavily involved in working with young people in the city to tackle gun crime issues and provide them with positive alternatives, and in strong support of the surrender campaign.
Ms Bell has also worked with Carisma, a charity that conducted talks on gun crime in schools which quickly revealed that it is in no way a hidden issue for young people.
“We’ve found young people often want to offload their worries about what they’ve seen or found,” Ms Bell told MM.
“This firearms surrender is a good opportunity to talk to younger siblings and children.
“No matter what family members do, good or bad, young people always look up to them.
“It’s a chance to explain to them what you’ve done wrong, tell them ‘I don’t want to use it, have others use it, or have it used against me, so this is why I’m handing it in’.”
If you know of any people involved in illegal firearms you can call 101 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.
For more information on the firearms surrender, click here.