Northamptonshire weapon surrender: 'Gang-on-gang' violence in Northampton 'not a major cause of concern' for public

A total of 43 weapons were handed in to Northamptonshire Police during the two-week surrender campaign. Photo: Northamptonshire Police
A total of 43 weapons were handed in to Northamptonshire Police during the two-week surrender campaign. Photo: Northamptonshire Police

The recent spate of violence in Northampton is not a major cause for concern to the general public as it is mainly 'gangs targeting gangs' , said a high-ranking police officer as more than 40 weapons have been surrendered to the force.

Last month a man was shot and stabbed at a football match in the Eastern District and another man was stabbed outside Sol Central, while there have been an unprecedented amount of murders in the town this year.

Chief Inspector Tom Thompson, who was involved in the surrender campaign. Photo: Northamptonshire Police

Chief Inspector Tom Thompson, who was involved in the surrender campaign. Photo: Northamptonshire Police

Chief Inspector Tom Thompson admitted the national firearms surrender provided an opportunity for any lethal weapons to be handed in to Northamptonshire Police.

"It is [timely] and most of those offences are caused by edged weapons and shotgun discharges where people have illegally got hold of shotguns and adapted them, causing harm to people who they're specifically after," he told the Chronicle & Echo.

"So in terms of the public being in danger it's not a major cause for concern as this is mainly gangs targeting gangs but the public can get in the way and that's when we get really concerned."

READ MORE: Shotguns, pistols and a samurai sword: These are the weapons surrendered to Northamptonshire Police

Nine shotguns, wartime guns, numerous replica pistols, knives, daggers and an ornamental samurai sword were among the weapons surrendered from July 20 to August 4, as well as boating flares and five lots of ammunition.

Ch Insp Thompson said the team is particularly pleased with the surrender of knives as they are 'genuinely dangerous' to the general public as they can be concealed whereas a 32-inch shotgun is a lot harder to hide.

The handed-in replicas had the appearance of real life weapons, and would only be distinguished from a real weapon by an expert eye, which the officer said can lead to tragedies.

"It does remind us particularly with the pistols that are replicas, even though they don't fire bullets, some of them shoot blanks, some of them shoot ball-bearings, or pellets or plastic BBs," he said.

"But if you come across them in the wrong circumstances it can be incredibly difficult for a member of the public or even a police officer to actually tell they're not viable firearms."

The surrender, co-ordinated by the National Ballistics Intelligence Service (NABIS), was aimed at getting people to hand in any firearms that may be in their possession and getting weapons off the streets.

During the campaign, the public were asked to call police on 101 to arrange an appointment at their convenience and at a location of their choice, to have officers come and collect the firearm.

During one prearranged collection of firearms, five guns were handed in by a woman whose father had passed away several years ago and had owned the guns. They had only been discovered in the loft recently after a house clear-out.

READ MORE: Shotguns, pistols and a samurai sword: These are the weapons surrendered to Northamptonshire Police

Ch Insp Thompson said: “It’s really interesting to see what people have chosen to hand in and what they’ve had in their homes and their possession. We’ve had a lot of shotguns and replica guns handed in this year.

“By having surrenders we prompt people to hand them in. They may innocently have guns in their possession, either handed down after people have passed away and they either don’t want or need them or their legal status has changed and people are unaware.

“They could innocently end up in the wrong hands, if for example you were to be the victim of a burglary. So if it’s not necessary for you to have the guns, then it’s vital they are handed in.

“I’m 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.

"We want the public to be safe, and this surrender means that the risk of these firearms potentially falling into the wrong hands, has been eliminated.

Most of the weapons will be made safe and destroyed, but anything suspicious will be investigated further and anything of historical value will be checked by a museum to see if it is worth keeping.

Ch Insp Thompson added: “This isn’t a one-off. We recover firearms from people throughout the year, so I would encourage anyone who has a firearm or they are uncertain about the lawful possession of a firearm, then they can call us on 101.”

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.

If you know of anyone in possession of an illegal firearm or involved in gun crime call police on 101 or 999 in an emergency.

Alternatively contact Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.

READ MORE: Shotguns, pistols and a samurai sword: These are the weapons surrendered to Northamptonshire Police