Alarm over police gunmen ‘like stormtroopers’

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Armed police have sparked concerns after they were spotted ‘hiding in bushes’ next to a residential road.

Fears were first voiced last week after worried residents reported hearing sounds of gunshots and ‘explosions’ near the former site of the pharmaceutical company Novartis in Wimblehurst Road, Horsham.

Sussex Police later confirmed the gunfire was part of a police firearms training exercise.

But Tony Hicks, of Broome Close, Horsham, is now calling for more warning signs about the activity.

He said: “I was somewhat alarmed to observe armed police hiding in bushes adjacent to Parsonage Road. These looked like stormtroopers with guns.

“This road is used by many including children with all the activities in full view, perhaps the police and others may be a little more thoughtful.”

But a spokesman for Sussex Police said: “We issued messages on social media last week advising people of the firearms training exercises taking place in Horsham, and specifically, the possibility of loud noises and explosions which could be audible to the public.

“Warning notices were also placed at the entrance to the site to further advise the public of the planned activities.

“These messages will be repeated for a final exercise which is scheduled to take place at the same site in Horsham on December 13.”

Meanwhile, West Sussex County Council, which owns the former Novartis site, said it was ‘pleased to be able to support our emergency services with somewhere for them to train for the lifesaving work they do.’

A spokesman added: “This sort of training is vital to make sure our emergency services are ready to keep us safe when we need them.

“The training Sussex Police have been doing has been fully risk assessed and is completely safe. Police placed warning notices at the entrance and exit to the site and also issued messages on social media advising people of the training exercises.

“The management and running of the training is the responsibility of Sussex Police.”