AN Ilminster father has claimed police were over the top when they confiscated a toy gun from his 12-year-old son at Victorian Night.

As reported in the News last week, officers confiscated a toy gun when they saw a boy firing it in the town centre. The move came as part of a crackdown on anti-social behaviour in Ilminster.

This week, the boy's father, Jason Miles, contacted the News to say he stood by his remark on the night that the action was 'pathetic' but stressed he was fully behind police efforts to tackle anti-social behaviour.

He also said the gun had been a prize from one of the fairground-style stalls in the Market Square on Victorian Night.

Mr Miles said: "I still stick by my remark to the officer that it was pathetic, because it was out of our control. We couldn't do anything about it, he didn't leave the house with it - we would not let our child go out with anything dangerous.

"He was given money to go out and enjoy himself and he won a prize on one of the stalls and picked a little toy plastic gun along with five of his friends and they were quite happily playing with them.

"I can't see there is any danger because you can fire this thing at your own hand and it does no damage at all.

"The policeman ran over to them and two of them stayed. I would have been really angry if my lad had run off because he knows right and wrong and he knew to stay."

Mr Miles was then told by PC Phil Bagg, who confiscated the gun, that he could collect it from him in Market Square, and during that time he remonstrated with him over the action taken.

Mr Miles added: "I strongly support the police in their fight against anti-social behaviour, but these lads were just playing cops and robbers with toy guns and that's as far as it goes. It was pathetic for acting like this with a toy gun."

This week, PC Phil Bagg said: "The gun had similarities to a real pistol in that it had a drop out magazine and a top slide to load it.

"It was in the hours of darkness at a family event and there were lots of people about who could have been frightened. The plastic pellets could have caused injury if they had caught someone in the eye.

"There have been incidents in Chard recently involving firearms or imitation firearms where armed police have been called.

"We get a number of calls that we have to treat as real firearms incidents until we discover that they are not."

Victorian Night organiser Pam Pike told the News: "On a family, community night, this was a most inappropriate prize to be given away. I would like to investigate this further. We would like to thank Ilminster beat manager PC Louise Wright who brought in more uniformed officers on the night."