COPS and robbers are not your usual suspects in a Christmas production, but one school is putting a new twist on the traditional nativity play.

Canvey Junior School’s Christmas production features a nativity, but the story initially starts with two daft robbers stealing jewels that are hidden in a manger in a school hall, which are then found by children rehearsing for their Christmas play.

Ultimately, good triumphs over bad and the robbers are not on the run for long before they are snared by police, but one parent, who doesn’t want to be named, has complained to the school about the content of the play.

Traditional carols, such as Away In A Manger, have alternative lyrics which they do not think are appropriate for a Christmas play performed by seven to 11-year-olds.

However, Janet Vaughan, headteacher of the school in Long Road, has defended the production, which is a published play and was downloaded from an “appropriate website” used by teachers.

“It is very very funny and nothing more than a light-hearted version of events,” she said.

“The outcome is that the robbers are caught and banged to rights and the true meaning of Christmas comes across very strongly with a nativity at the end.

“It is nice to have a fun element to any sort of Christmas production and we always have a religious basis to it as well.”

After receiving the complaint, Mrs Vaughan wrote to all parents saying if they had similar concerns their child could be withdrawn from the play.

However, she said despite one child not taking part, other parents have been supportive of the production.

She added: “Our productions are always absolutely excellent, the kids get such a lot out of it.

“It’s a nonsense to say those words are anything other than tongue-in-cheek and the children perfectly understand that.”

Unfortunately the play comes at a time when Canvey has suffered a spate of armed robberies, but Mrs Vaughan said making any link between the production and the crimewave was not appropriate.