Sussex Police has admitted making mistakes in the case of a Brighton pest controller who was confronted by an armed response team during a pigeon cull.

Graham Simmons (pictured), who had been contracted by the local council to do the work on 15 May, told local police of his plans two days before the cull took place.

In a statement to this magazine, Sussex Police explained that ‘the information was not copied to another database – so responding officers were not immediately aware of his legitimate reason for being there.’

Chief Inspector Mark Trimmer said: “Our armed officers responded quite correctly to this call. We have no wish to inconvenience law-abiding people, but at the same time it is vital that we take proper precautions until the full facts are established in such incidents.”

“We must take such calls seriously, and then scale back our response as soon as possible, rather than fail to respond with sufficient resources and then find ourselves unable to protect the public if there is, in fact, criminal intent.”

“It would have been helpful to the officers had the original information been copied to that special database and that is certainly a lesson we have drawn from this.”

Mr Simmons said: “It’s a complete joke. This kind of situation needs to be resolved before someone is killed. They could have shot me or run someone over on the way there. I did everything that I needed to do, and they still got it wrong.”