SOUTH-WEST residents have been urged to hand in any unwanted or illegal firearms and weapons over the next two months during a statewide amnesty.
Coinciding with October’s Community Safety Month, it’s the first amnesty to be held in Victoria since April 2010, when more than 800 items were handed in, including machetes, swords, hunting knives and butcher’s knives.
Acting Senior Sergeant Tania Barbary, from Warrnambool police, said the amnesty, which began yesterday, allowed members of the public to surrender firearms and weapons to police stations without fear of prosecution.
She encouraged people to contact the station before they bring their weapons in so they could be advised on how to transport their weapons safely and securely.
“It could be that a person has taken over a farm and they’ve found an unregistered firearm in a shed which has been there since the 1930s,” she said.
She said previous amnesties had been very successful and had prompted a lot of people to surrender firearms.
Deputy Commissioner Tim Cartwright said Victorians had until November 30, 2012 to present to police any illegal or unwanted weapons and firearms for them to be destroyed.
“No questions asked. We just want these potentially deadly weapons off our streets,” Mr Cartwright said.
“We’ve seen in previous amnesties a number of items voluntarily surrendered, included high-powered firearms, handguns, air rifles and flick knives.
“Laser pointers and imitation firearms are also prohibited weapons that we expect should be handed in.
“This amnesty is about giving people the opportunity to make the right choice and hand in their unwanted or illegal firearms, knives and any other weapons during this time.”
The latest crime statistics show that the number of weapons/explosive offences recorded is up 24.1 per cent — from 6915 offences in 2010-11 to 8697 offences in 2011-12.
Mr Cartwright said police would continue to target anyone who thought it was reasonable to carry knives and seize weapons before they were used in crimes.
“Anyone who chooses not to use this amnesty as an opportunity and continues to carry illegal weapons faces harsh penalties — up to two years’ imprisonment, or up to 10 years for firearms offences,” he said.
“The process can be an anonymous one so we strongly encourage anyone with these types of weapons to dispose of them safely during the amnesty period.”
All weapons must be wrapped in paper, plastic or cloth and transported to a police station in a safe and secure manner.