Weapons amnesty after law changes make it illegal to possess items in private

Police are warning people not to fall foul of the law by having dangerous weapons in their own homes after the first person in Nottinghamshire was charged under tougher new laws banning possession of certain items – even in private.

To help keep people safe Nottinghamshire Police is holding a two-week amnesty, starting on Monday (16 August 2021) allowing anyone to safely dispose of knives and other banned weapons without the fear of being punished.

As well as being banned in public, it is now an offence to possess certain items such as knuckledusters, throwing stars, zombie knives, butterfly knives and telescopic truncheons – even in private – due to new laws introduced under the Offensive Weapons Act 2019. 

Previously possession of these weapons was only an offence if they were taken out in public.

Weapons handed in during Nottinghamshire Police’s amnesty, which will take place from 16-29 August, will be destroyed. People can use 12 amnesty bins across the force area without fear of prosecution.

The initiative comes after a man was arrested by the force’s proactive knife crime team within 24 hours of the inception of new powers under the Offensive Weapons Act.

Team members found a telescopic baton after searching an address in St Ann’s on 14 July 2021.

Lance Comrie, 56, of Brewsters Road, St Ann’s, was subsequently charged and on 3 August he pleaded not guilty to possessing an offensive weapon in a private place when he appeared at Nottingham Magistrates’ Court. He was bailed to next appear for trial at the same court on 2 December.

The new legal powers were also used when armed officers attended a report of a man seen pointing an air rifle out of an upstairs window of a home in Sutton-in-Ashfield.

Two samurai swords and a dagger were found inside a home in Coxmoor Road when they were called to the address on  3 August 2021. The gun was also seized.

A 50-year-old man was arrested on suspicion of possessing a firearm with intent to cause fear of violence and possessing an offensive weapon in a private place. He was subsequently released on bail.

The amnesty is being supported by Nottinghamshire’s Violence Reduction Unit which is helping to steer young people away from knife crime and violence by working with vulnerable individuals and families to help understand the root causes of violent crime, make a difference to young lives and put them on the road to a safer and more positive future.

The bins will be located at the following police and shared service stations in the city:  Broxtowe, Bulwell, Byron House, Oxclose Lane, Radford Road, St Ann’s.

The county police and shared service station bin locations are: Beeston, Kirkby, Mansfield, Newark, Ollerton, Worksop.

Superintendent Kathryn Craner, the force’s knife crime lead, said: “Every weapon handed in could mean the prevention of a violent incident, injury or death but the work doesn’t stop there. 

“Tackling knife and weapon-enabled crime requires a team effort and we are continuing to work tirelessly and shoulder-to-shoulder with our partners to drive down knife crime even further, prevent it from happening in the first place and to keep people safe.

“As well as encouraging people to hand in their weapons during this amnesty we also want to increase awareness of the recent changes to law which mean it’s now illegal to own potentially lethal weapons within the home.

“We don’t want to criminalise people but we need them to realise these changes are now in force, to understand what they mean and how they could be affected.

“This new legislation will enable us to remove even more dangerous weapons from circulation, even if they are kept in a private home, help us to further clamp down on weapon-enabled crime and prevent potentially dangerous weapons being used to inflict violence.”

Nottinghamshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner Caroline Henry said: “I am determined to do everything in my power to reduce knife crime and its horrifying consequences. That’s why I’m so pleased to see that my bids for additional funding for Nottinghamshire’s Violence Reduction Unit have been successful. We will work with the police to stop the potential for harm by changing attitudes.

“I hope that this amnesty will encourage people to hand in knives and other dangerous weapons. Every weapon off the streets reduces the chances that it may be used to injure someone.

“I said I wanted to ‘Make Nottinghamshire Safer’ which is why I support all initiatives that will reduce criminal activity in Nottinghamshire.”

Natalie Baker-Swift, interim head of the Violence Reduction Unit (VRU), said: “Operations such as the Weapon Amnesty are crucial in removing opportunities for serious violence to occur in communities in the here and now, giving the VRU and our partners space to support young people to make positive life choices to reduce the cycle of violence as part of a whole systems, long term approach.”

The latest national figures show that knife crime in Nottinghamshire fell by 15 per cent and offences of violence with injury plummeted by a quarter in the year to April 2021.

Continued investment in specialist policing teams and more officers helped the force to record an overall annual fall in crime of 21 per cent over the same period – comfortably ahead of the national average of 14 per cent.

Sustained reductions were achieved after the force’s knife crime team doubled in size earlier this year, boosting its capacity to tackle violence and crime, seize dangerous weapons and drugs and keep people safe.

The force was able to swell the team’s ranks due to being at the forefront of the national police recruitment drive through Operation Uplift, which is recruiting hundreds of extra officers to our front line while also becoming more representative of the communities it serves.

As well as strong proactive enforcement activity to crack down on knife crime, education and prevention work is vital to Nottinghamshire’s approach.

This includes specialist schools and early intervention officers who are working with children across the county, educating them about the consequences of carrying a knife and encouraging them to make positive life choices.

Officers will make full use of the updated Offensive Weapons Act legislation during proactive search activity, bolstering the force’s relentless work all year round with partners to combat knife and weapon-related crime and further drive down serious violence.

The force is now working with partners to educate the public and the business community regarding the changes in legislation. 

Other changes to the law, helping to address the growing issue of online sale of knives, will start later in the year and will bring in new provisions for the control of goods sold online, as well as placing responsibility on to delivery companies to conduct age verification at delivery stage.

To find out more about the legislation changes search ‘Offensive Weapons Act 2019’ online.

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