Detective Chief Inspector Rob Kirby, from the Kent and Essex Serious Crime Directorate, said: “Gun crime is, fortunately, low in Essex but we do still see offences where firearms are used.

“We have many responsible, law abiding firearms licence holders in Essex but there are members of the criminal fraternity who want to get hold of guns to threaten, frighten and injure others and it’s really important we do everything we can to reduce the chance of them getting their hands on one.

“There are a number of reasons why you may possess a firearm illegally, whether it be because you’ve inherited a trophy of war weapon from a family member, your own licence has expired or, may be unaware that changes in the law mean you’re no longer eligible to have a licence.

“It may just be that you possess a firearm legally but you just don’t want or need it anymore and want to dispose of it safely and that’s exactly what you can do during our surrender.”

There were 569 offences involving a real firearm in Essex last year which works out as less than one for every 3,000 people in the county.

We also seized, or had handed into us, 2,224 real firearms and 520 air weapons or imitation firearms.

DCI Kirby added that this surrender is just one of many things we do to protect Essex and keep people here safe from firearms: “Thanks to information and intelligence from the public we regularly carry out proactive operations to tackle criminals using weapons and targeting those who are possessing them illegally.

Nick Charrington, the Chairman of the Rural Community Council of Essex, said: “The Rural Community Council of Essex really approves of this scheme as it is a chance to dispose of firearms that are no longer needed or are unlicensed.

“We know that people legitimately possess firearms - both shotguns and rifles - for both work and recreation. 

“However, over time the rules relating to firearms have changed and people may be in possession of a firearm that is no longer licensed. 

“Additionally, the need to possess a firearm changes - and there are occasions when people own a firearm which they no longer use.

“You may own a pistol brought back from the war by a family member or friend, and be afraid of handing it in to the police for fear of prosecution.

“Between Saturday 20th July and Sunday 4th August any firearms may be surrendered to the police under the terms of this campaign”.

If you wish to know more please visit the Essex Police website click here