UK Impact

London will get 600 more armed police to take on terrorists following the Paris attacks, Metropolitan Police reveals

  • All armed officers volunteer for extra training required to carry weapons
  • The 27 per cent increase to 2,800 armed police is a direct response to Paris
  • Commissioner Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe said it’s expensive but vital step
  • Labour offers a ‘cautious welcome’ but said neighbourhood officers crucial
The new armed officers, pictured training, are a direct response to the Paris attacks the Met Police said today
The new armed officers, pictured training, are a direct response to the Paris attacks the Met Police said today The new armed officers, pictured training, are a direct response to the Paris attacks the Met Police said today

The Metropolitan Police is to hold a recruitment drive amongst its officers to sign up 600 more armed police following the Paris attacks.

Met Commissioner Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe said increasing the number of weapons trained officers was a direct response to the marauding attacks in the French capital which killed 130 people and injured another 368.

Sir Bernard insisted ‘every day we are getting stronger’ and while expensive the new officers were ‘vital’ to keep London safe.

Announcing the plan, he said: ‘In the days following Paris I asked my firearms team to increase the number of armed response vehicles available on our streets, which we did.

‘Now I have decided that we take the steps to increase these numbers on a permanent basis.

‘To do so, the Met will now start putting plans in place to raise the number of armed officers that we have by 600.

‘This increase will more than double the number of armed response vehicles on our streets and grow a highly trained specialist part of our capability.

‘This is because we know that the threat we currently face is likely to be a spontaneous attack that requires a fast response to deal with it.

‘This increase has started already and every day we are getting stronger.

‘It will be an expensive option, but is vital to keeping us safe.’

Currently the Metropolitan Police have around 2,200 trained marksmen and this is set to rise by 600.

Trained firearms officers are all volunteers and force bosses are now holding a recruitment drive to fill the new posts.

Shadow home secretary Andy Burnham offered a ‘cautious welcome’ to the news.

He said: ‘Today’s announcement sounds like good news in the wake of the Paris attacks but we do have to ask where the money is coming from.

‘If it’s taken out of neighbourhood policing so we see police officers come off the beat, or if it’s money that isn’t then available to other big cities around the country, then that wouldn’t be right.’

 The Home Office declined to comment on an ‘operational decision’ by the Met because chief officers in each force are responsible for setting the number of armed police in their area.

The Government did provide £34 million across the country for a ‘national uplift’ in armed capability following November’s attacks, to be paid to forces via the counter terrorism policing grant.

Ken Marsh, chairman of the Metropolitan Police Federation, said the announcement would not lead to falling standards.

Met commissioner Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe announced 600 more armed police would be created Shadow home secretary Andy Burnham said he offered a 'cautious welcome' to the announcement but said it should not reduce neighbourhood police funding

 He told the BBC Today programme: ‘My colleagues are highly trained to do the job they do. It’s all by choice and they don’t all get accepted when they apply to do it.

‘It is the most rigorous training you could find in any form of employment to be a firearms officers, to carry a blue ticket.’

He added: ‘I think they will still stick rigorously to the application requirements, they won’t be watered down.

‘You will still need to pass everything to get in – it won’t be watered down just because suddenly we need a lot more officers.’

Questions were raised over morale among marksmen in the wake of the shooting of 28-year-old Jermaine Blake in north London last month.

Police called for greater legal protection for officers who kill suspects, particularly in light of new counter-terrorism tactics which will see them stepping over casualties to tackle marauding gunmen head on.

Mr Marsh added: ‘We need to look very carefully at what is out there in terms of legality, the legal requirement for our colleagues.

‘They need to know when they are making that split second decision – we are talking about less than half a second to make that decision, that they have an honest held belief about what they are doing, that they are going to be represented and backed up.’

Chris Phillips, former head of the National Counter Terrorism Security Office, said new counter terror tactics for dealing with marauding attackers could make it more likely the police will open fire.

He told Today: ‘If you look at what happened in the Bataclan theatre, police officers were having to go in behind a shield in order to shoot terrorists.

‘That is something police officers have never had to do before, we have always been in a containment situation.

‘Now we are asking them to go forward and there will be mistakes, police officers will shoot people accidentally in those circumstances.’

Sir Bernard is already meeting armed officers every two weeks in a bid to protect morale.

Speaking on LBC on Wednesday he said: ‘I’ve actually met a very large number of our firearms officers after the incident in Haringey to see how they felt, what their complaints might be.

‘And I’ve got the taskforce running now which I’m seeing a group of them every two weeks with things that I’m putting in place to encourage more officers to feel that they’ve got the confidence that I’m supporting them and in turn the public are supporting them.’

 Police chief on plans to increase number of armed officers
 There are already 2,200 armed police in the capital. Sir Bernard Hogan Howe's announcement today will add 600 to this number

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