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Fedster

Rural police 'could routinely carry guns'

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Fedster

Front-line officers in remote, rural communities could be routinely armed in order to deal with terror threats, police chiefs have said.

The move is being considered by the National Police Chiefs' Council because of a lack of specialist counter-terrorist firearms officers.

It comes after a drive to recruit these officers in England and Wales fell short by about 100.

Police said arming officers in remote areas would be a last resort. 

Counter-terrorist specialist firearms officers (CTSFOs) are trained with special forces to deal with a raft of situations, including hostage rescues and terror attacks.

Plans were put in place to bolster the UK's capacity for armed responses in the wake of the Paris terror attacks in 2015, in which 130 people died.

Over the past two years, the Home Office has funded an extra 874 armed officers in England and Wales - bringing the total to more than 6,400 in April 2017.

But on a practical level, police chiefs have estimated that in rural communities, such as Devon and Cornwall, a firearms unit could be between 30-70 miles away in the event of a major incident.

Presentational grey line

Analysis

By Danny Shaw, BBC News home affairs correspondent

Two years ago, police warned that "unarmed and vulnerable" officers in rural communities would be "sitting ducks" in the event of a terror attack.

Since then, huge investment and effort has gone into improving armed police capacity and capability, as the latest announcement shows - but gaps remain. 

Armed response vehicles (ARVs), which are intended to be first on the scene of a firearms incident, are an expensive asset, with 13 officers required to double-crew a vehicle 24 hours a day, seven days a week. 

That's why police chiefs are looking at alternatives to deploying ARVs in areas where there's a low risk of a terror attack, such as allowing front-line officers to carry guns. 

It goes against the grain of British policing for officers to be routinely armed, but there's increasing support for it among those polled in a Federation survey and it remains firmly on the table as an option.

Presentational grey line

Simon Chesterman, National Police Chiefs' Council lead for armed policing, said: "Of course there are communities within England and Wales where an attack is highly unlikely.

"But ultimately, if something does happen, we have got to be able to provide an armed response."

Mr Chesterman said the training and demands of being a CTSFO meant there was a high turnover rate, and some officers were put off by the level of scrutiny that police face when police open fire in the line of duty.

He explained that police chiefs had conducted "many layers of the analysis... to understand where is best to place these officers". 

counter-terrorist police marksmenImage copyrightPA
Image captionThere remains a shortfall in the number of counter-terrorist marksmen

"We can't put an armed police officer on every street corner everywhere across the whole of the United Kingdom, so what we've had to do is analyse the threat."

He said discussions were ongoing in a "handful" of police forces over how to improve response times - and whether some form of routine arming might be appropriate.

Mr Chesterman was clear that arming rural police forces "does not need to happen at the moment".

"This is not, if you like, a favoured option," he told the BBC's Danny Shaw. 

"But I can't rule it out at this stage, in terms of making sure that all communities get the right level of protection from armed police."

Around 90% of British police officers are currently unarmed.

Any decision on arming officers is a matter for the chief constable of each of the 43 local forces covering England and Wales, as well as the national British Transport Police.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-44151242d

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James255

Good.

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JulietAlpha1

Won’t happen. It’s one thing having it “on the table” as “an option” but I can’t see any Chief putting their name behind it.

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HazRat

It could happen. Gun safes in cars isn’t unheard of and could easily be implemented. The job just has to get over the issue of training abstractions.

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Jeebs

How about everyone is armed……

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Radman

Said this in another thread when it was first mentioned but this rumour was circling BTP for awhile that something similar to the NI 'self defence' pistol course would make it's way over here at some point and rolled out to officers on a voluntary basis much like taser.

I don't think it's a bad idea at all - BTP would be well suited for this being a national force with officers based out of key locations within towns and city centres.

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James255

Is this likely to happen soon or not? I often think Simon Chesterman speaks sense when reading these articles (he does in this one too), but he seems to contradict himself in this article. He thinks it should be on the table, yet he doesn't see it happening soon? Yet he seems to suggest that some forces are considering it.

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Zulu 22

The move is wanted so much that the recruitment fell short of the figure by 100. That should tell the pro arming lobby something.

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Radman
14 minutes ago, Zulu 22 said:

The move is wanted so much that the recruitment fell short of the figure by 100. That should tell the pro arming lobby something.

That is arguably purely down to politics surrounding the role - little perceived cover or support in place should you ever be in a position where you have to use your firearm.

You see this with taser let alone an actual firearm.

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Funkywingnut

Not before time.

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Mac7

This would be a good move. However it isn’t just rural areas that are at risk. Arguably a lot of small cities and towns are equally vulnerable due to regionalisation of firearms teams. Many lives could be lost before AFO’s arrive on scene, including first responding officers. The public and some senior officers who sit of the NPCC need to realise that modern policing doesn’t look like the stereotypical beat bobby walking the beat with a whistle and wooden truncheon. We should move with the times and modernise to counter an ever growing threat, not just from terrorists but also OCG’s.

I’ve probably said it before but I don’t think there would be a huge negative public reaction to fully arming the police. It will soon be forgotten about much like the taser uplift.

Change is sometimes forced. Let’s just hope it’s not as a result of an active shooter resulting in lives lost. I think it’s high time more front line offices had access to sidearms.

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Radman

I find our whole approach to police firearms strange in the UK.

It is either one opposite end of the scale or the other, either a cop will be expected to hit the beat in this day and age of frequent marauding knife/gun attacks with little more to beat back assailants than a metal, plastic tipped hitting stick OR can of pepper spray that in most other nations are perfectly legal for anyone to own and walk around in.... On the opposite end of the spectrum we have a fully kitted out Officer with long arm, side arm, taser, advanced trauma first aid kit etc all wearing black with ceramic armour plated body armour looking like an extra from Scicario or a near future dystopian nightmare like Children of Men.

I don't get it... Why do we need to have this all or nothing approach? Why can't we have officers inbetween wearing standard beat gear with the availability of a pistol is required, just like 90% of the rest of the world seems to function with?

Why is it in Australia their equivalent on the PCSO is authorised to carry a firearm on duty yet in good old Britain a fully warranted, sworn in Constable serving the crown isn't to be trusted?

I simply do not understand the resistance or frankly the terrified ravings from people whenever this common sense idea is brought up... I cannot understand our politicians denying the same level of protection to every person on the street that they enjoy with a mighty ring of steel when sitting in parliament surrounded by armed cops.

Baffles me.

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Funkywingnut
5 minutes ago, Radman said:

I find our whole approach to police firearms strange in the UK.

It is either one opposite end of the scale or the other, either a cop will be expected to hit the beat in this day and age of frequent marauding knife/gun attacks with little more to beat back assailants than a metal, plastic tipped hitting stick OR can of pepper spray that in most other nations are perfectly legal for anyone to own and walk around in.... On the opposite end of the spectrum we have a fully kitted out Officer with long arm, side arm, taser, advanced trauma first aid kit etc all wearing black with ceramic armour plated body armour looking like an extra from Scicario or a near future dystopian nightmare like Children of Men.

I don't get it... Why do we need to have this all or nothing approach? Why can't we have officers inbetween wearing standard beat gear with the availability of a pistol is required, just like 90% of the rest of the world seems to function with?

Why is it in Australia their equivalent on the PCSO is authorised to carry a firearm on duty yet in good old Britain a fully warranted, sworn in Constable serving the crown isn't to be trusted?

I simply do not understand the resistance or frankly the terrified ravings from people whenever this common sense idea is brought up... I cannot understand our politicians denying the same level of protection to every person on the street that they enjoy with a mighty ring of steel when sitting in parliament surrounded by armed cops.

Baffles me.

Exactly, works in NI, will work on the mainland 

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David

Again, we have to be asking the question 'Why?'

How are we getting to the stage where we even need to be considering this, how?

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Radman
11 minutes ago, David said:

Again, we have to be asking the question 'Why?'

How are we getting to the stage where we even need to be considering this, how?

This has been edging ever closer for years now, the writing has been on the wall for a fair while in my opinion.

I think the trouble we find ourselves in our political class likely know how overly soft British policing has become, the results of decades of political interference and meddling with the criminal jutice system has effectively broken it to the point where we are seeing horrific crimes being routinely undertaken on British streets, from shootings through to knife crime and acid attacks, this without touching on the terrorism aspect which isn't going to stop or go anywhere any time soon and will likely progressively get worse throughout to the end of my career (only another 25 years to go eh?)

I think the best way forward is to bring the NI model to the country similar to the taser rollout, politically they'll be more appetite for that than routine arming.

Secondly I personally feel we need to concentrate on our border security ensuring the gaps are plugged as best as they can be, currently they aren't and as discussed in another thread we have numerous entry points into the UK totally unguarded and unpoliced - I would rather see private industry profiting from these ports pay for security out of their massive profits year on year rather than the tax payer much like the TOCs pay for BTP... I feel that would net far better results than relying on the home office to fund everything which of course is more liable to government cuts later on down the line. Plugging the gaps would of course reduce the risk of not only unwated, dangerous individuals entering the country but also items which may be used to cause devastation on our streets from slipping through.

Just my opinion of course but we need to start working on this as a priority because if we don't a tragedy of massive proportions is simply an intelligence failing away... 

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