FAKE guns are flooding on to our streets, according to the latest Home Office figures.

The use of replica firearms in recorded crime has jumped by a massive 46% year-on-year.

These strikingly authentic looking weapons remain on sale in Huddersfield town centre.

The British Crime Survey figures reveal there were 1,815 cases nationally of fake guns being used in 2002-03, a huge leap on the previous year.

In October last year the Examiner called for action to get fake weapons off the streets after buying a replica Uzi sub-machine gun almost identical to the real thing in the town centre for just £80.

Det Chief Insp Colin Prime, of Huddersfield Police, says people need to realise the serious consequences of carrying a fake gun.

He added: "Replica firearms remain a huge problem for the police force. They are a menace and we want them off the streets.

"An officer has absolutely no way of knowing whether a gun being carried is fake or not. We have set, structured ways in which to deal with guns and they must be followed even if we suspected the gun was fake we must treat it as a live weapon.

"Until we have it in our hands we often cannot tell the authentic gun from the imitation.

"The message to anyone carrying a fake weapon is that both the police and the courts will come down on you hard."

Colne Valley MP Kali Mountford welcomed new hard line laws to tackle gun crime including making it an offence to carry imitation firearms in a public place.

She said: "Gun crime is a real concern so it is good to see that we are introducing a mandatory five-year sentence for the possession of an illegal firearm.

"This will come into effect immediately.

"This is in addition to new laws in the Anti-Social Behaviour Act to combat the misuse of air weapons and imitation firearms."

Overall gun crime showed only a slight increase of 3%.

In total crime figures show the risk of being a victim of crime remained historically low at 27%, about the same as it was in 1981.

An increase of 14% was recorded for violent crime - but this is being put down to new methods of reporting violence.