A lighter that looks like a gun sparked a full scale police raid yesterday.

Armed officers broke into a property in Bakers Almshouses in Lea Bridge Road, Leyton, at 12.30pm to arrest a 46-year-old man after workmen on the site reported that they had seen him holding a gun.

Katy Andrews, who lives along the road, had been on her way to meet a friend for lunch when she saw the armed police preparing to raid the property.

She joined a crowd of onlookers outside the gates to the building as officers dressed in riot gear piled out of a police van and two cars.

She said: “Three of them went in first – they broke the door down and ran inside.

“They called out the all-clear and two officers went in after them, covered by a policewoman with a handgun. There were at least another four outside.

“There was a sharpshooter there standing by a small tree about ten feet outside the property in case anyone came out firing, I suppose. Everyone was shouting ‘there’s a gun, there’s a gun’.

“I couldn’t believe my eyes. It was really dramatic. I shouted that I was a press photographer just to get a better view, there was loads of people looking.”

The officers only spent two or three minutes inside before they came out with the man in handcuffs.

He was subsequently released without charge when the Met confirmed what was thought to be a gun was in fact a lighter.

Miss Andrews said: “That’s hilarious, but it’s great to see how fast the police acted. It was really impressive.”

Chief Inspector Michael Cowie said: "We take all calls to police seriously and although this turned out to be a lighter that looked like a gun it sends a clear message that we will react accordingly to any and all calls.

“We are determined to tackle gun and knife crime in Waltham Forest and will continue to robustly deal with any individual suspected to be involved in these crimes."

Police found a handgun when around 120 officers from Waltham Forest police and the Met’s Trident anti-gang taskforce stormed ten homes of suspected gang members during a drug and violent crime crackdown in Walthamstow at the start of the month.

Six people have been charged with drug offences and four have been bailed until March.

They are all suspected members of the Priory Court and Chingford Hall gangs.