NEW calls have been made for imitation firearms to be banned.

Holme Valley parish councillor Royston Rogers, who started a campaign against fake weapons last year, has spoken out after an incident involving a fake gun in Honley.

A police helicopter and armed response unit were called out last week after reports of a man being threatened with a gun.

In fact, the weapon was an airgun that looked like a real firearm.

Mr Rogers said fake guns looked too realistic, which caused headaches for police because they had to react to incidents as if real firearms were involved.

He added: "People have wielded look-alike guns and ended up dead. If I was an armed police officer and someone had a gun and I thought they were a danger, I might let a round go.

"They look like real guns. It is a difficult situation for police to be in. People should be more responsible," he said.

Mr Rogers added anyone who sparked an armed police response by using fake guns should foot the bill.

He said: "If you look at the cost of sending a unit out, why should law-abiding taxpayers foot the bill? It would be a deterrent, as would fining the parents, especially if they have bought the item."

Age restrictions on owning fake guns vary depending on the type. If an airgun can only fire pellets at a force less than 0.08 joules, it is classed as a toy, safety marked and carries a parental supervision warning.

If the gun can fire at more than 1.35 joules, it is classed as a firearm and can only be sold to over-17s.

Weapons with a firing force of between 0.08 and 1.35 joules cannot be classed as toys or firearms.

Most fake guns are of this kind and they are subject to no laws, except that they must conform to General Product Safety Regulations.

Andrew Bibby, principal offer at West Yorkshire Trading Standards Service, backed Mr Rogers.

He said: "We are opposed to the sale of all types. There is no safe use for them. Trading standards nationally are working to voluntarily remove them from sale."

Mr Rogers wrote to Home Secretary David Blunkett about the issue, but got a reply saying no action was currently planned to ban imitation weapons.