Nottinghamshire Police criticised over girl gun accident injury
The public should have been told sooner after a seven-year-old girl was injured when an officer accidentally fired a gun, a police and crime panel chairman has said.
She was hit in the face by an empty cartridge from what is believed to have been an assault rifle on 30 October.
The Nottingham Post newspaper claimed police only released a statement after they made enquiries about the incident.
Both the IPCC and Nottinghamshire Police said they were investigating.
The girl, from Worksop, was injured while a group of children and parents were being shown specialist police services at Sherwood Lodge, near Hucknall, after they won a local prize.
The officer accidentally fired a shot into the ground, police said.
Panel chairman Tony Egginton called on Nottinghamshire Police's Chief Constable, Chris Eyre, to make a statement and called the week-long delay "alarming".
"The concern is that if we are an open transparent organisation, which I think we are and hope we continue to be, the public should have full access and knowledge about what's happening. It just throws a question under it," he said.
He said the incident will be discussed at a panel meeting on Monday.
A former police firearms officer, who did not want to be named, said the weapon was likely to have been a Heckler & Koch G36C which is used by police forces across the UK.
"It's a semi-automatic and it spits out the cartridge quickly sideways and can [hurt someone] in the wrong place.
"It's likely she would have been close [to the gun to cause injury]."
A shell from a pistol would usually "loop" into the air and was unlikely to cause injury, he explained.
Heckler and Koch G36
The G36 semi-automatic assault rifle is manufactured by Heckler and Koch and was designed for the German armed forces.
According to the manufacturer's website, it is used by infantry in several countries as well as special forces and security services.
Heckler and Koch said it is made of glass fibre reinforced plastic making it lightweight.
The weapon also features in popular video game Call of Duty.
A Nottinghamshire Police spokesman would only confirm that the gun was a police-issued weapon and said although children do handle firearms at events like these, no child had done on 30 October.
The force also responded to concerns about why it took a week to release information regarding the incident.
Its statement said: "As the incident took place inside police headquarters, there were no further witnesses sought in connection with this.
"All communications with the affected families and wider public have been proportionate to that fact and the force has been in regular contact with the injured girl since the incident."
The Independent Police Complaints Commission has confirmed to the BBC it will investigate the incident.
John Mann, MP for Bassetlaw, said there had been a "cultural failure" over basic procedures involving weapons.
However, the firearms expert and former officer said: "If that was the case it would happen every day.
"Something has gone wrong and a child has been hurt, it's a gross mistake but an isolated incident. The cop involved will be in bits."
Paddy Tipping, Nottinghamshire Police and Crime Commissioner, said on Thursday he was "shocked" by the incident and had been assured it would never happen again.
Mr Tipping also said the officer involved was a fully-trained firearms officer but was not currently on firearms duties, pending the outcome of the investigation.