Imitation weapons: police reveal danger

Essex Police have spoken about the increasing challenges they face dealing with imitation firearm call outs.

James Hore

PARENTS have been urged not to buy their children imitation weapons this Christmas.

The appeal comes from Essex Police who said today they were concerned that youngsters carrying the weapons could find themselves at the centre of an armed incident.

Officers said that the “vast majority” of firearms incidents they have been called to this year involved toy or imitation guns.

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Firearms officer Pc Andy Wheddon said the fear was that officers could inadvertently injure someone.

He said: “When we respond to such incidents we cannot always identify whether a gun is real or fake.

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“Carrying an imitation gun could ultimately result in a highly-trained armed officer having to challenge a teenager and so, naturally, we are worried.

“We have been deployed to nearly 900 firearms incidents so far this year, with a significant number involving replica or BB guns. This has to stop now.”

Officers at police headquarters today placed real firearms alongside BB guns and replica weapons to highlight the difficult challenges they face identifying which is which in a real-time situation.

Pc Wheddon added: “People are increasingly aware of the potential for firearms in our midst and, quite rightly, call us whenever they see something resembling a gun. Whether this gun is an air weapon, BB gun or genuine firearm, our response is the same.

“While they are legal to own, parents must ask themselves whether it's really appropriate for children to have these guns.

“If they do, they must learn to use them responsibly. We cannot have situations where innocent members of the public are injured by missiles they or we fire.”

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