The United Kingdom’s National Ballistics Intelligence Service (NABIS) is conducting a new gun surrender program from Nov. 13 to Nov. 26 after gun crime in England and Wales increased by more than a quarter in the past year.
The Office for National Statistics found a 27 percent increase in crimes involving firearms during its most recent review of crime data. Despite a near ban on the civilian ownership of handguns the review found crimes committed with handguns increased by 25 percent and accounted for the majority of gun crimes. The agency said the increases in 2016 were part of a multiyear trend.
“The latest rise continues an upward trend seen in firearms offences in the last few years, however, offences are still 31 percent below a decade ago,” the most recent annual report from the agency said. “Over the last year, over two-thirds (32 of the 439) of police forces recorded a rise in offences involving firearms.”
NABIS cited the statistics as part of the reason it decided to undertake a new gun surrender program this month.
“Police forces across the U.K. are appealing for people to hand over any unwanted guns with a two week surrender of firearms and ammunition, starting on Monday 13 November 2017,” a release from NABIS said. “It has been three years since the last national firearms surrender, when forces again asked members of the public to surrender unlawfully held or unwanted guns and ammunition to prevent them from getting into criminal hands.”
Detective Chief Superintendent Jo Chilton, the head of NABIS, said the mandatory gun surrender program is intended to protect the public.
“Surrendering unwanted or illegal firearms avoids the risk of them becoming involved in crime and means that members of the community can dispose of them in a safe place,” he said. “During the campaign this November you can contact your local force and hand in any unwanted or illegal firearms. This way you can be confident you have got rid of a firearm safely.”