Police are warning parents about allowing their children play with toy guns, saying they are running the risk of having them confronted with police marksmen.
Essex police said parents should not buy youngsters plastic guns for Christmas in case passers-by thought that the toys were weapons.
”Replica weapons look so much like the real thing that they … can terrorise individuals and communities,” Supt Simon Williams told The Daily Telegraph.
”The majority of children, teachers and parents are simply not aware of the issues and consequences of carrying around such items - they don’t realise the impact these so-called ‘toys’ have on our communities and on us.”
Police said that had been called to nearly 1,000 incidents involving guns in 2009, with many turning out to be false alarms caused by toy and replica weapons.
”When we respond to such incidents we cannot always identify whether a gun is real or fake,” a spokesman added.
”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.”
Imagine the bloodshed in the '60s when kids ran around shooting each other playing 'war', or 'cowboys and injuns', if armed police had turned up to spoil the fun with a bullet to the temple. I grew up next to the Moors Murderers but survived, it's hard to think that today I would have survived that but been shot by the police.
Am I the only one who wonders why, when handguns are banned, we see more and more armed police on the streets? Even more worrying we see armed police who are not trained well enough to differentiate between toy guns and real ones, but seem to have decided to shoot 'just in case'.
Still, what's the problem with shooting a few kids in the hunt for a nutcase with a long beard in a cave somewhere in the Hindu Kush?
I wonder what Dixon of Dock Green would have to say about this. Or Commander George Gideon.