firearms uk
Britons are being encouraged to surrender firearms during a two-week amnesty from 13 to 26 November REUTERS/Andrew Yates

A two-week firearms amnesty has been introduced in a bid to encourage unauthorised gun owners to hand in their weapons.

People who take their firearms and ammunition to police stations across the UK in the next two weeks will not face any criminal charges.

The National Gun Surrender will run until 26 November and police are calling for people to hand in air guns, rifles, BB guns, shotguns and pistols, including antiques.

The initiative, launched by the National Ballistics Intelligence Service (Nabis), comes just a month after national figures revealed that gun crime in England and Wales had risen by 27%, with more than 6,667 crimes involving firearms recorded in the year ending June 2017.

The service said that many firearms are kept by people "in innocence and ignorance of their illegality".

Assistant chief constable Helen McMillan, the National Police Chiefs' Council firearms lead, said: "You don't have to give your name or address; we just want more guns out of harm's way. Each firearm we retrieve has the potential to save a life, so do the right thing and surrender your weapon."

The last time such an amnesty was launched in 2014 more than 6,000 guns were handed in, including antique guns, imitation firearms, handguns, rifles, shotguns and ammunition.

"The majority of the firearms handed in during the last surrender were older items that the owner no longer needed and wanted to safely dispose of," Chief inspector Mark Colquhoun of Warwickshire Police told the Coventry Telegraph.

"People may have older or historical weapons stored in lofts or garages which have been inherited or passed down through the family, and these can also be disposed of during the surrender.

"While these are not being used for criminal activities, they can and sometimes do fall into the wrong hands and can then be used to commit crimes," he added.

Detective chief superintendent Jo Chilton, head of Nabis, said: "Perhaps you have a gun that has been handed down through the family or you have found a firearm in your loft or shed which has been gathering dust and you had forgotten about."

Possession of an illegal firearm can lead to a five-year prison sentence. If an offender is found guilty of possession with intent to supply, they could face a life sentence.