A police force has been criticised after it allowed seven and eight-year-olds to fire toy guns during a school trip.

The Year 3 class from Kings Norton Primary school in Birmingham were pictured aiming replica firearms at West Midland Police's "state-of-the-art" firing facility.

The force opened its doors to thank pupils who had written to officers following the recent terror attacks in London and Manchester.

But some parents, such as Sarah Massey, said they were "horrified" when they saw the photos.

Lyn Turner wrote on Facebook: "I'm not comfortable with this at all. Primary school kids?

"Parents don't like buying toy guns let alone showing them real ones. Not sure about this at all."

While Claire Milliner wrote: "As a parent of one of the yr3 children who attended that day, thank you for taking the time out to spend with our children, normalise police presence and make them feel safer."

As part of the visit, the pupils also got to dress up in riot gear and talk to officers about their jobs.

One of the thank you letters sent to the police. Credit: West Midlands Police

Deputy head of the school Dawn Chapman said: "After the awful events in Manchester and London we were talking in class about how to stay safe and who protects us.

"Many of the children had said how they'd seen more police in Birmingham and officers carrying guns.

"We wanted to stress to them that they shouldn't feel scared and that the officers were there to keep people safe.

Chief Inspector Danny Delaney said the visit was an opportunity to let the children know they shouldn't feel scared.

"The pupils had sent in letters of appreciation to officers for keeping the public safe in the wake of recent events after seeing an increase in armed officers on the streets."