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Caithness News Bulletins April 2003

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People all over the country are being invited to Set their Sights on a Safer Scotland by handing in firearms and other weapons to the Police.  "The aim," explained Northern Constabulary Chief Constable Ian Latimer at the launch today at the Forces Firearms Range," is to remove as many weapons as possible - principally guns of all types, including air weapons and imitation or replica firearms, but also knives, swords, coshes and indeed anything capable of causing injury - to avoid their being misused.

"Our Scottish Amnesty, fully supported by the Scottish Executive and all Political parties, is being held in parallel with one south of the border and will run from Monday 31 March 2003 until 30 April 2003 and while primarily, we would hope it will give people reassurance that positive, pro-active action is being taken on their behalf, it is also intended to impact upon those who might continue to labour under the misconception that the carrying of any weapons might add to their "street cred".

"We would stress, of course, that the Amnesty is as much an opportunity for people to hand in the so-called trophies often found in lofts by the relatives of war veterans, as a chance to spike the guns of those with the potential to use them in criminal activities.  "Our over-riding intention is simply to render safe through their surrender as many as possible."

And it is hoped that replica and imitation firearms will feature just as prominently among those being surrendered.  "These are not toys, after all," added Mr Latimer, "but can easily cause just as much fear and alarm as the real thing."   The last time a Firearms Amnesty took place nation-wide was in June 1996, when nearly 3500 firearms - rifles, handguns and shotguns, and including some 1000 air weapons - were surrendered. Additionally at that time Scotland's Police Forces took possession of more than 100,000 rounds of ammunition and 500 other weapons such as knives. In the Northern Constabulary area, 368 firearms and 26 other weapons were handed in and a total of 18,500 rounds of ammunition was surrendered.  Other weapons included knives, samurai swords, claymores, bayonets and crossbows.

"We cannot anticipate how successful this new Amnesty will be," continued the Chief Constable, "but we would ask everyone to take advantage of this opportunity to help make their own streets safer.  "Last year a similar initiative was held in Lothian and Borders with a startling variety of weaponry being surrendered then. This included an imitation German Lugar, a Colt 45 cowboy gun, a Derringer-type ladies handbag
pistol and a 9 mm Magnum, not to mention a very realistic toy and a number of flare guns and starting pistols.   "It is frightening that this sort of weaponry was out there and it does not take much to imagine the potential problems should they ever have fallen into the wrong hands, young or criminal.

"But today they no longer have the potential to cause danger as a result of their being handed in," said Mr Latimer finally, "and we would hope that many more will be going down a similar road before the end of the Amnesty on April 30th." 

Weapons can be handed in at any Police Station or collection might be considered, depending on individual circumstances.