Armed police and a helicopter were sent to chase a car thought to contain a gun – only to discover the weapon was in fact a paintball rifle.

Officers were called at 2.38pm to Lye Lane, Bricket Wood on August 16, following reports of three men in a vehicle acting suspiciously with what was believed to be a machine gun.

Sarah Spence, Hertfordshire Constabulary representative, said: “Due to the nature of the call, firearms officers and the force helicopter were deployed to trace the vehicle, a BMW.

“It was stopped in Hemel Hempstead a short time later and officers confirmed the gun was not a weapon.

“The occupants were given words of advice.”