MORE than 70 firearms, including a rocket launcher, were handed in during a two-week surrender.

Hampshire Constabulary’s Firearms Surrender launched on July 20 urged people to take the opportunity to hand in any unwanted or illegal firearms to police, so that they could be disposed of safely.

During that fortnight the force had 31 handguns, 12 shotguns, 24 rifles, two starting canons, one machine gun and two non-descript guns were recovered and 23 quantities of ammunition in the county.

Firearms handed in included two starting canons from a sailing club, an automatic machine gun that was deactivated and a rocket launcher.

Other surrendered items include deactivated and imitation firearms, BB guns and Tasers.

Hampshire constabulary joined police forces across the country to take part in the national campaign run by the National Ballistics Intelligence Service (NABIS).

During the two-week campaign, those surrendering firearms did not face prosecution for the illegal possession upon surrender and can remain anonymous.

However, this was not an amnesty and if further examination of a surrendered firearm reveals a link to a crime, it will be investigated.

Chief Inspector Karen McManus, tactical firearms lead for Hampshire and Thames Valley, said: “We would like to thank everyone who handed in any firearms or ammunition as part of this surrender.

“This means that there are 80 fewer firearms and imitation firearms on our streets which could have easily fallen into the hands of criminals.

“As a result our neighbourhoods are much safer, both for our residents and for our officers who work every day and night to protect them.

“We are very pleased that so many people took the opportunity to take part in this initiative and the number of firearms recovered certainly proves how valuable such a surrender is.

“Gun crime is low in Hampshire and the Isle of Wight and has not seen a rise others force areas have, however we cannot be complacent and we will continue to do all we can to make our communities safer.”

Now that the surrender has finished, if anyone finds a firearm or they are uncertain about the lawful possession of a firearm, they are asked to contact the police on 101 or 999 in an emergency.

Alternatively call Crimestoppers, anonymously, on 0800 555 111.