Derbyshire Police have been accused of “encouraging” gun violence after teenage cadets posed for a photo with shotguns and rifles at the force’s firing range.
The Derbyshire Constabulary cadets are aged 13 to 18 and were featured with different guns, along with tasers, in a photo on Twitter posted by the Derby Police Armed Response Unit.
Derbyshire Police have since taken down the post after it was deemed “inappropriate”.
A Gun Control Network spokesman called the photo “either mad or bad”, adding: “The police have no business encouraging young people to develop an interest in guns.
“We want fewer guns around, not more. As anyone with an ounce of common sense knows, there is a high correlation between the number of guns in a country and the level of gun violence.
“Children should be encouraged to take up healthier sports. I hope the photo is removed from circulation.”
Assistant chief constable Chris Haward said: ‘The event with the Derby senior cadets took place at the force’s firing range, and was one of many we hold to show the cadets about the role of the firearms officers, the duties they undertake, the kit they use and how to become a firearms officer.
“The cadets are an integral part of bringing through the next generation of police officers and as an organisation we show them how every part works together.
“The event took place in a controlled, safe environment with trained firearms officers. All the weapons were of course made safe prior to the event, no live rounds were in the area and all weapons had the yellow clips that show they do not contain live rounds.
“A demonstration about how to make the weapons safe, which was undertaken by a trained firearms officer, took place and the cadets were also shown the difficulty in telling the difference between a real weapon and a fake one.
“Cadets were allowed to hold the firearms under the supervision of the firearms instructor and did not fire the weapons.
“We actively engage with our cadets to make them aware of all roles that police officers undertake.
“For instance, recently our junior cadets took part in events that showed how forensics are used at crime scenes and were taught life-saving first aid skills.
“As a force we have strict guidelines around what is and is not appropriate to post on force related social media accounts.
“One of the pictures included in a Twitter post related to the firearms event fell below that standard and has been removed.
“Further guidance with regards to this type of event has now been issued to account holders.”
A BASC spokesman came to the defence of Derbyshire Police.
They said: “Rather than being vilified by anti-shooting extremists, Derbyshire Constabulary should be applauded for educating youngsters about the responsible use of guns on a firing range.”