Parents’ horror at shotgun found buried in Haggerston children’s playground

Criminals are being forced to use increasingly unusual places to store weapons, say detectives

Parents have spoken of their horror after a shotgun was discovered buried in a children’s play area in Haggerston.

Firearms officers dug up the double barrel Browning shotgun at lunchtime on Tuesday November 23 in the Apples and Pears Adventure Playground in Pearson Street.

They used a metal detector and a sniffer dog to locate the weapon, which had been broken into three working parts and stashed with live ammunition below eight inches of soil.

From images released, it appears to have been sawn off.

The playground, run by community volunteers, is directly opposite Randal Cremer Primary School and is open to youngster aged six to 15.

Mum of two Terese Ceesay said she was shocked that a shotgun had been found so close to where children had fun.

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“It’s a playground. They keep it in a good condition, it is colourful and inviting - you don’t think anything like that would happen there,” said the 29-year-old of Thurtle Street.

“I feel a bit scared. It is quite intimidating.

“The school is just across the road. I would hope it wasn’t happening so close to us.”

Officers from Operation Bantam, Hackney’s unit tackling gun crime, have now seized more than 40 guns in the borough in the past 12 months.

They believe those hiding the gun in Apples and Pears had scaled the high wooden fence surrounding the playground because it was locked and secure when officers arrived.

No arrests have been made. The shotgun has been sent for forensic testing.

Det Insp Rhys Willis said there was no reason to criticise the owners of the playground.

“We are discovering that due to more and more overt police activity guns are being stored in the most unusual places,” he said.

“Instances lately have recovered firearms stored in lift shafts and disused buildings. We will constantly visit estates and conduct sweeps for firearms.”

He asked anyone who had information on gun crime or who knew someone who possessed a firearm to call Hackney Police’s Operation Bantum on 020 7275 4060 or crimestoppers anonymously on 0800555111.

The Gazette contacted the managers of Apples and Pears Adventure Playground for comment but received no response by the time of going to press for this story.