Children ‘armed’ with guns during summer play scheme

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The “shocking” sight of children brandishing guns during a play scheme has caused outrage in a quiet village.

This photo was snapped by a passer-by in Great Linford last week.

“With all the shooting in Germany and the USA, do we really want to be encouraging this gun culture in our city,” she said.

The ‘weapons’ are actually harmless laser guns and part of a survival skills summer holiday scheme run by MK-based company Special Ops.

The scheme has been running for eight years but has now caused controversy because Great Linford Parish Council applied for planning permission to officially extend it into a patch of woodland near the Pavilion.

A furious resident claimed: “They want to set up camps, get the children uniformed and teach them how to make fires, gather wild food,

hunt people and shoot them.”

The parish council, together with Special Ops, insists the activities are harmless, fun and educational. But nevertheless they have now proposed to withdraw the change-of-use planning application in a bid to placate the protesters.

Parish councillors are due to vote next Monday on the withdrawal motion, which would include building a 6ft fence around the copse.

Special Ops MK teaches children aged seven to 14 military discipline, respect and survival skills. They also use Airsoft rifles at other locations. Their website describes the guns used as “full scale replicas of real world weapons.”

Great Linford Parish Council manager Eirwin Tagg said the holiday play scheme would continue at the Pavilion if the copse planning bid is withdrawn.

She said. “Laser tag replica ‘guns’ are kept under the strict control of Special Ops trainers and are not taken home by the children. They do not fire projectiles and use harmless infrared signals.”

Mrs Tagg said the parish council considered the play scheme was a “worthwhile” activity for children.