Armed officers arrest man after Dereham gun scare

Cherry Tree pub in Dereham. Picture: Ian Burt

Cherry Tree pub in Dereham. Picture: Ian Burt - Credit: IAN BURT

Armed officers were deployed in Dereham after a man was suspected of being in possession of a firearm but it later turned out to be a BB gun.

Police became aware of a potential firearm threat when they were tipped off by a member of the public.

Armed officers were dispatched at around 3pm on December 12 and according to a witness, who did not wish to be named, the suspect spent much of the afternoon drinking at the Cherry Tree pub while police monitored his actions.

They said: 'I knew he was a person of interest but wasn't aware that it was a firearms incident. People had certainly noticed the increased police presence in the town.'

Other residents said they saw three police vehicles in the Cherry Tree car park and officers were searching the area.

The man is understood to have left the pub at around 6pm and police confirmed they arrested him shortly after as he walked to the corner of Theatre Street and Trinity close.

The man was found to be in possession of a BB gun, a type of air gun that is designed to shoot small plastic or metallic projectiles called BBs.

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This type of weapon does not generally fit within the definition of a firearm because it is not very powerful and is unlikely to cause serious injury, however it can be regarded as illegal under certain circumstances.

The man has now been released and police do not intend to take any further action.

Chief inspector and Breckland commander, Paul Wheatley, said: 'We received information from a member of the public that a male was seen with a firearm, we quickly responded using armed units to investigate the information.

'A male was located with an air weapon and he was arrested and later released. We want to reassure the public that we are not looking for anyone else regarding this incident.'

In May a teenager was arrested by armed officers for carrying a BB gun in Norwich.

After the incident Chief Constable Simon Bailey urged people not to carry BB guns in public. 'You cannot differentiate them from a genuine firearm until such a time you are able to examine them,' he said.

'The simple message is don't carry guns, BB guns or replica firearms in a public place.'