A new amnesty is being launched in a bid to make Essex safer after “a concerning rise” in gun crime over the past three years.

Essex Police are encouraging the surrender of unwanted or unlicensed firearms, ammunition, imitation firearms, and air or gas-powered weapons to one of eight police stations across the county.

Det Chief Supt Rob Fordham said: “In the last three years we’ve seen a concerning rise in the number of offences involving a firearm – from 768 to 900.

“Guns can have a devastating impact on people’s lives.

“This surrender will give you the opportunity to safely dispose of any unwanted or unlicensed firearms and ammunition safely, ensuring they do not fall into the wrong hands.

“There are many responsible firearms license holders in Essex, but there have been a number of changes to the law in recent years and people may not be aware of how they’re affected.

“This surrender also gives you the opportunity to hand in any guns you may have inherited from elderly relatives or friends which are not actually legal for you to possess.”

If you surrender firearms you will not face prosecution for illegally possessing them.

You can also choose to remain anonymous when handing the items in.

The history of each live weapon will be checked though to see if they have been involved in a crime.

Weapons can be surrendered at front counters at the police stations in Basildon, Grays, Southend among other stations across the county.

Essex Police last ran a gun amnesty between October 31 and November 11 2016. Some 129 firearms and 27 whole rounds of ammunition were surrendered. Call ahead on 101.