THIRTY armed police officers swooped on a shocked group of A-level media students after mistaking them for gun-wielding gangsters.

The seven students, who were brandishing three fake guns bought from a sweet shop, were dressed in sharp suits and were recording a film as part of their studies.

However, the amateur film crew, all pupils at King Solomon High School, Barkingside, were surrounded by officers from Scotland Yard's crack firearms team SO19, who had been keeping them under surveillance for an hour.

Usually called out to deal with organised crime and armed robbers, the specialised police were alerted to a group of suspected gangsters by a concerned resident of Ravensbourne Gardens in Clayhall.

However, when theyswooped, arms at the ready, they discovered that the gang were all teenagers making a short film as part of their A level course work.

The bizarre tale, which unfolded during the afternoon on Wednesday, June 1, has since featured in the national press and has even made headlines on an American website.

Talking to the Guardian, Adam Langleben, 18, who wrote the 15-minute script and was caught up in the bust, said: "It was absolutely shocking. Round the corner I heard people shouting get down, get down' and against the wall'.

"I thought my friends were joking and then I turned and saw a gun pointing in my face. We were lucky not to be shot."

Police confiscated the film and ordered the seven to appear at Barkingside police station on Friday where, according to Inspector Nigel Nottage, the seriousness of filming a gun battle in the street without informing the police was got across to the boys.

He added: "The video has been returned as a gesture of goodwill. It was evidence of an offence so under normal circumstances they could have expected it to be destroyed. I would have expected children filming a gun battle in the street to take some advice from teachers or from the police."

Following the incident the police schools liaison officer will be going to King Solomon.

Headteacher Rabbi James Cannard said nothing of this nature had ever happened before and the boys were shocked, surprised and frightened.' He added: "Having spoken to the boys they are aware of their foolishness, their lack of foresight and how lucky they are the incident concluded without injury."

This week the Government announced it will be banning the manufacture, import and sale of replica guns which any reasonable person could mistake for a firearm'.