Staff at a primary school have been praised for their professionalism as armed police stormed a playground.
Hundreds of shocked parents and pupils were told to stay inside Seymour Primary School, in Broadfield, after it was put into lockdown on Friday, March 17.
The police helicopter hovered above the building as officers searched for a gang who escaped through the school grounds following an assault in Kensington Road at about 2.30pm.
On social media parents said one of the suspects was seen with a gun but police said that they had no report any of the suspects had guns.
Headteacher Sarah Park said there were more than 500 people in the school as pre-school children and parents were brought inside.
She said: “At the end of the school day as parents were entering the site to collect their children we became aware of a police helicopter circling overhead and then the presence of further officers in Seymour Road.
“As officers entered the school site they advised that children should not leave the building and consequently the school’s ‘amber’ lockdown procedures were implemented.
“Parents and pre-school children were brought into the school building whilst we awaited further information. There was a degree of uncertainty about the exact nature of the incident at this time however the school was assured that there was no direct threat to the school.
“The officers in attendance were keen to ensure that children and parents did not inadvertently find themselves involved in a developing situation or exposed to the detaining of potential suspects. In addition to this the departure of over 500 children and their families from the school site in to the local area could complicate and impede the police operation.
“This situation developed very quickly but staff, children and the vast majority of parents felt reassured by the presence of the police and the lockdown procedures were followed as a precautionary measure.”
On the Crawley Observer Facebook page parents praised staff for their professionalism.
Deborah Williams said: “Teachers and staff were brilliant. Not everyday you see armed police on the playground of your son’s school, very surreal.”
Teresa Kilby said: “It was very scary and my son was very upset but the teachers did a great job to reassure him and every child there that they were safe.”
The Kemnal Academies Trust, which runs the school, added: “The quick thinking and fast action of the teachers and staff at Seymour Primary Academy ensured the safety of not only students of the school, but also the parents and guardians who had arrived at to pick up children at the end of the school day. In what were extenuating circumstances, the incident was handled calmly by the staff who followed the agreed procedures and worked closely with the emergency services. We’d like to take this opportunity to thank all involved.
“We’d also like to thank those on site, students, parents and guardians for their co-operation and patience on Friday afternoon.”Anyone with information on the group is asked to contact police online.”
Police are appealing for anyone who saw the group in the area at the time or who has any information to report it online to https://sussex.police.uk/contact-us/response-to-appeal/ quoting serial 878 of 17/03.
Alternatively, you can call 101 or contact the independent charity Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111 (www.crimestoppers-uk.org).
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