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Last Updated: Sunday, 2 March 2008, 14:14 GMT
Police to hold fake gun amnesty
Ch Insp Trickey with two guns, one fake and one real
Ch Insp Trickey shows two firearms, one imitation (left) and one real
Police in Dorset are urging people to hand over fake and replica guns during a month long firearms amnesty.

They said the majority of incidents armed police attend involve realistic imitation firearms.

The surrender scheme will target BB guns, blank firing pistols, cap guns and other items that resemble a gun.

Ch Insp Wesley Trickey said: "We will not be seeking to prosecute anyone handing one in, should the possession of it have been an offence."

He added: "Many imitation firearms look so realistic they are indistinguishable from real firearms - causing great fear and distress.

Test purchases

"Carrying a realistic imitation or real gun is illegal and I urge people of all ages to hand any imitation weapons in.

"Imitation weapons can be mistaken for real firearms and carrying one in public could result in you coming face to face with armed police.

"It is also important that any weapons handed in are brought to the police station in a responsible way - carried in a bag, by an adult."

In addition to the surrender scheme, officers will be visiting retailers who sell weapons, and imitation weapons, to ensure they are complying with the law.

They will also carry out test purchases at retail premises in Dorset suspected of supplying imitation weapons illegally.

The maximum sentence for carrying an imitation gun in a public place has been increased from six months to 12 months imprisonment.

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