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Last Updated: Friday, 26 August 2005, 14:51 GMT 15:51 UK
Police criticised over gun youth
Knutsford town centre
Members of the public called police after seeing the boy on King Street
Anti-gun campaigners have criticised police for only giving a warning to a boy seen brandishing a replica handgun on a busy Cheshire street.

The boy was armed with a BB gun, which fires plastic pellets, in Knutsford town centre, as people walked past.

Michelle Forbes, of anti-gun group Mothers against Guns, said the teenager deserved more than a telling off.

Police said the 17-year-old did not aim the weapon at anybody, but has been warned of his conduct.

They added that the youth would be spoken to in the presence of his parents as soon as possible.

The replica gun was seized by officers following the incident on Monday, a spokesman for Cheshire Police said.

It was not classed as a firearms incident by the force.

Local patrols were sent out when reports were made by members of the public on King Street on Monday afternoon.

BB gun
The boy was carrying a BB gun

Ms Forbes said: "This is an alarm call. I don't have a problem with the police... obviously they have to do their risk assessment which they did before they went in and decided that this wasn't a weapon that could fire real bullets.

"What I have a difficulty with is the outcome. Just giving him a slap across the wrist isn't good enough."

The weapon can only be sold to people aged 17 or over, but is available by mail order or the internet.

It became illegal to carry the replicas in public places last year.

Laughing and joking

Supt Richard Strachan, of Cheshire Police, said the force knew the gun was an imitation before they arrived at the scene.

He added: "We had very difficult information about the way the youth was behaving. He was clearly laughing and joking with some other youths who were in company with him.

"The weapon had not been pointed directly at any member of the public so the information was that nobody had actually been directly threatened with this weapon, although clearly its presence was causing a degree of concern and fear."

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