Warning to youths after armed officers respond to BB gun alert
A SENIOR officer has warned youngsters they risk facing heavily armed officers if they carry weapons – fake, replica or real – in public.
The warning comes after two teens were arrested in the city centre following an incident near the Noah's Ark public house in Courtney Street on Thursday evening.
Shortly before 8pm police received reports by a member of the public who said they had seen a group of youngsters shooting at a nearby property with a handgun.
The group of five youths were tracked on CCTV walking away from the car park towards the big screen.
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Armed response officers quickly swooped on the group.
Three girls with the group were taken home while two 17-year-old men were detained – one in possession of a BB gun.
The teenagers, one from Ford and one from Milehouse, were arrested on suspicion of causing harassment, alarm or distress – a public order offence.
One made a full admission and will be dealt with by restorative justice.
No further action will be taken against the second man.
Supt Chris Singer said the police's "over-riding duty was to protect life".
He said: "The recent tragic experiences in the United States highlight the danger of guns.
"The only way we can be certain a suspected weapon is not a fake, a replica or just a BB gun is from close examination.
"We have to deal with it as a real weapon until we can be sure otherwise, so we will always meet incidents like this with an armed response.
"Highly trained officers will assess the level of threat.
"Anyone wandering around with what appear to be weapons will be met with police officers carrying a variety of weapons and they will be directed to comply with their instructions.
"When you are met with such armed officers, it is a sobering experience. It will more than likely be frightening.
"However, it is no more frightening than how the public feel at seeing someone in the street carrying a weapon.
"Years ago, while off duty, I had what turned out to be a pretend double-barreled shotgun levelled at me. The level of fear which went through me I have never experienced before or since.
"We have all seen and read about the recent horrendous experiences in the United States and while our level of gun control is good we know there are still weapons in the hands of criminals in the UK and we cannot take the risk of not responding appropriately.
"We have to respond with armed officers to protect the public."