An innocent game of cops and robbers used to provide two benefits - lots of fun and a basic understanding of right and wrong.
But children caught playing with a toy gun today have been warned they face something far more memorable - a raid by armed police marksmen.
Officers have told parents to avoid buying youngsters plastic guns for Christmas in case passers-by mistake them for dangerous weapons.
The warning has been issued by Essex Police, where a spokesman said children who wield the toys in public places could 'get an MP5 [submachine gun] put in your face'.
The once-great Britain.