MORE than 50 guns were handed in to Bury police stations in the final week of April's national gun amnesty.

That brings the total to 130 weapons surrendered - including a machine gun - during the campaign which ended on Wednesday.

And now police are launching a major crackdown on illegally-held weapons as they continue to fight gun crime.

Inspector Jack Hodson of Bury police said: "We are extremely pleased with the public response to this campaign.

"What has been most encouraging is the type and variety of weapons that has been handed in, which has included a significant number of both real and prohibited guns."

One of the aims of the amnesty was to highlight forthcoming legislation, which will enforce a minimum five year sentence for the illegal possession of a firearm and make it an arrestable offence to possess an imitation firearm or air weapon in a public place without reasonable excuse.

"We've had air and soft air pistols, air rifles, blank firers and replica guns surrendered, which is an excellent result. These types of weapons can seriously injure people, cause damage to property or, particularly in the case of replicas that look so much like the real thing, can terrorise individuals and communities."

The amnesty has surpassed the previous one in 1996 when Greater Manchester Police saw more than 500 firearms and around 12,000 rounds of ammunition surrendered.

One less weapon

"From the outset of this initiative we always said that if we only had one gun handed in, then it would have been a success," added Inspector Hodson. "It would be one less weapon that could be used in a crime or could injure or even kill someone. "

Police warn, however, that although the amnesty has come to an end the fight against gun crime will continue to be one of their top priorities. The message is, quite simply, that guns will not be tolerated on our streets. Intelligence-gathering and information from concerned members of the public will be used to target those who use guns for criminal purposes.

Inspector Hodson said: "The public have been given plenty of time to get rid of any illegal weapons they have without fear of prosecution. We are very grateful for the response of the law-abiding majority. We will be actively seeking out those who have retained illegal weapons and they can expect to face the full consequences of possessing their firearms before a court."

Weapons of historic interest will be offered to museums and the rest recovered will be destroyed.