07/11/2014 11:39 GMT | Updated 20/05/2015 10:12 BST

Girl, 7, Accidentally Shot By Police Firearms Officer

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 19: Police tape cordons off the scene of the shooting of WPC's Nicola Hughes and Fiona Bone in Hattersley on September 19, 2012 in Manchester, England. Local man Dale Cregan, 29, has been arrested in connection with the shooting of WPC's Nicola Hughes and Fiona Bone, who were killed as they responded to a routine incident at Abbey Gardens in Hattersley shortly before 11am yesterday. (Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)

A police firearms officer accidentally shot a seven-year-old girl during a demonstration at a police station.

The schoolgirl was in a group of children and parents when an officer fired a gun into the ground during an outside demonstration.

The terrified youngster suffered a 'minor injury to her lip', either by a ricocheting bullet or an ammunition cartridge that bounced off the ground. It's not known if the girl needed hospital treatment.

The officer involved has been taken off firearms duties while the inquiry takes place.

The accident happened during a visit to Nottinghamshire Police Force's dog section, traffic cars and firearms unit, which the pupil had won in a colouring competition.

The gun was fired during a lunchtime on October 30, during the half term holidays, but the police force only made a public admission after details of the incident leaked out.

A Force spokesman said: "At the end of a brief talk from firearms officers there was an accidental discharge of a police issued firearm into the ground.

"Following the incident a seven-year-old Nottinghamshire girl, who was part of the visiting group, was found with a minor injury to her lip.

"The cause of that injury will now form part of the investigation."

It was at first thought the victim could have been injured by a bullet ricochet but Paddy Tipping, Nottinghamshire Police and Crime Commissioner, said he believed it had been caused by an ammunition cartridge which fell and bounced as the weapon was fired.

Mr Tipping said there should have been no live ammunition in the room during the talk, and all weapons should have been unloaded.

He said: "I'm shocked, concerned and alarmed at this serious incident. I have received assurances from the chief constable that it won't happen again."

He said the girl's parents and grandparents, who have not been named, had been in 'extensive contact' with Chris Eyre, the chief constable, over the last week.

It was unclear what type of weapon was involved in the accident but the force's standard issue sidearm is the Walther P99, while the Heckler & Koch MP5 submachine gun is also widely used by British forces.

Simon Torr, the force's assistant chief constable, said: "We are conducting a thorough inquiry to determine exactly how this unfortunate incident happened and have also referred the matter to the Independent Police Complaints Commission.

"We have spoken to the parents who were visiting force headquarters with their children to explain what happened and have apologised for any distress caused."