A dramatic increase in the number of guns turned over to police has seen 200 firearms handed in to Gloucestershire police in the last fortnight.

Police say they have been taken by surprise by the number of guns surrendered, after 202 firearms were collected during the national firearms surrender, Operation Aztec, six times more than in 2014 when only 34 guns were handed in.

The increase has been put down to increased awareness of gun and terror related crime, say county police.

People were urged to hand in firearms to five county police stations, including Stroud, and take the opportunity to get rid of shotguns, rifles, revolvers, air weapons and many rounds of ammunition to prevent them getting into the wrong hands.

The vast majority of items will be destroyed by Gloucestershire Constabulary, with a small number being sent to NABIS (National Ballististics Intelligence Service) for forensic examination and some with local historical value being offered to museums such as the Soldiers of Gloucester.

The operation was organised by NABIS to encourage people to hand in firearms safe in the knowledge that they would not face prosecution for possession of an illegal firearm at the point of surrender and that they could remain anonymous.

They were also invited to hand in other prohibited items including stun guns, especially those disguised as other items such as mobile phones and torches which might have been bought innocently abroad where they are legal, but which carry a minimum five-year sentence in this country.

Chief Inspector Jason Keates said: "There has been a great response from the public, and the number of firearms handed in has taken us by surprise. “It is obviously better to get these out of circulation and remove any risk of them getting into the wrong hands and being used for criminal purposes.

"The only reason we can think of for the increase is that people are more aware of reports of gun crime and the threat of terrorism, and feel safer getting rid of their guns.

"We have not, however, received any concealed firearms, such as stun guns disguised as mobile phones or torches, which we know people buy innocently abroad, where they are legal, for self defence purposes.

"They are not legal in this country and if anyone is found in possession of one they face five years in prison, so it is clearly better to get rid of them and remove that risk.

"Anyone who still has these in their possession, or any other unwanted firearm, can hand it in to police and we will dispose of it for them."