heh, I've just noticed the "...mistakenly sent a police Heckler & Koch machine gun similar to this one..." picture caption, the similarity ended with it being black and made by H&K as the simulator was a G36C and the file picture that of an MP5, journo muppets.
Indeed, I don't understand why they needed the MP5 pic and caption as the picture heading the article addresses all the visual info you need.
I found it interesting that a rep from the police claims that the thing isn't a firearm. I know the hobby gets flak on here but I'm an airsofter and thanks to some harping from the lunatics that run the country my toy guns (because lets face it, thats what they are) have now been given the rather serious sounding name of 'Replica Imitation Firearm', toy guns (any sort, bb, rubber sucker, water etc) with more than 50% of them being painted an unrealistic colour are classed as 'Imitation Firearms'.
The proper airsoft stuff tends to fall more in the realms of low powered air weapons by function but it seems the legislation is written based on appearance. As far as I'm aware the classification on air weapons keeps them classed as weapons dealt with under the Firearms Act due to their muzzle energies and deacts, models and training tools such as the one discussed are classed as just 'replica firearms'.
So, the object in question I believe is subject to legislation written in both the Firearms Act and Violent Crime Reduction Act, the latter of which clearly states that the item in question is a RIF. Somewhat amusing that someone responsible for enforcing the law goes and makes a statement that is technically wrong and could have been easily replaced with "The item in question although realistic in appearance is comparable in function to the same blasters used in laser quest and poses no risk to public safety".
Still, given the amount of red tape the police are wrapped up in its not surprising they don't know the latest crazy definitions for big boys toys and things that are actually dangerous in the wrong hands.