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Home Office firearms review labelled 'shambolic'


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Report is 'cold comfort for officers out there doing the job'.

Home Office firearms review labelled 'shambolic'


Date - 18th January 2019
By - Martin Buhagiar - Police Oracle
7 Comments7 Comments}


A review into police use of firearms has been branded "shambolic" and criticised for not addressing officers' concerns.

The Home Office report was commissioned following fears officers could be deterred from volunteering for armed roles if they did not feel sufficiently protected.

The Police Federation of England and Wales (PFEW) said the review "appears to have been written on the back of a cigarette packet" .

It said it was the result of "a sorry and disappointing post-script to a long, flawed and drawn out process".

The review concluded the right legal and procedural protections are in place for officers following a police shooting and "in a great majority of incidents officers were dealt with as witnesses rather than suspects", the Home Office said.

Home Secretary Sajid Javid approved revised Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) guidance, which the Home Office said strikes the right balance between the need for robust investigation while supporting firearms officers in the line of duty.

The Home Office said the IOPC's section 22 guidance, which was made statutory on Thursday, includes a preference that key police witnesses should be separated after an incident.

It also gives senior officers operational discretion to use alternatives, like recording proceedings on body worn video.

The approval of the guidance sets out a police officer's responsibilities and duties in the period immediately following a death or serious injury during arrest, in or following custody or after a firearms incident.

Che Donald, vice-chairman of the PFEW, said: "This was meant to be a meaningful review to allay the very real fears of serving firearms officers around being adequately protected and not treated as suspects just for doing their job.

"It was announced when the government was anxious to recruit an extra 1,500 firearms officers after the Paris terror attack and heightened fears in the UK.

"These fears were then realised with a spate of devastating homegrown attacks in London and Manchester.

"Three years down the line there is still a shortfall of more than 600 firearms officers - and a review that appears to have been written on the back of a cigarette packet."

He added: "Now, eight months later, we have a shambolic 'report' which doesn't begin to properly address our concerns.

"It blithely states that 'the right and legal protections are in place for officers' and 'in a great majority of incidents officers were dealt with as witnesses rather than suspects'.

"I actually think the Home Office just forgot about the review.

"That is cold comfort for officers out there doing the job, knowing that if they are forced to pull the trigger their lives will probably be overturned while they are under investigation, often for years.

"Where's the evidence to show this has been looked into diligently, as we would expect for such a responsible role in policing? Because it's certainly not in this review."

Mr Donald said the only positive thing he can find to say about the way the review process has been handled is that it recognises the distress that IOPC investigations and legal processes cause for officers.

He added: "This review is a sorry and disappointing postscript to a long, flawed and drawn out process.

"Quite how this will enable us to recruit the numbers of firearms officers we need to mitigate not only the terror risk but also the rising tide of violent crime is not clear."

Mr Javid said: "Firearms officers are highly trained professionals who do a uniquely challenging job - putting themselves in harm's way to protect the public and taking split-second decisions on whether to discharge their weapons.

"Any use of force by the police must be proportionate and necessary, and the public must have confidence that investigations following a police shooting incident are independent and robust.

"But we must also make sure armed officers feel empowered to use their skills and experience in order to save lives in the most dangerous situations."


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Proposals derided by the PFEW and their view is the same as mine that, there is hardly any backing for any AFO who actually has to shoot someone.

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22 hours ago, Zulu 22 said:

Proposals derided by the PFEW and their view is the same as mine that, there is hardly any backing for any AFO who actually has to shoot someone.

Are you sure this is their view and not just your own?

Yes this review has failed to address the concerns raised. (Perhaps they did forget all about it??)

Yes recruitment still continues to be a problem, but there are numerous reasons for this. The perception or fear of post incident procedures being one of them.

The Fed appear to be asking for the fears of potential recruits to be addressed, more than the actual procedure.

My experience of post incident procedures have been positive and that includes the conduct of the IOPC. However the whole system does need a meanigful review, as it can go wrong and lead to years of stress and worry for those concerned. But I rather tell the truth to any potential firearms officers. It's a fantastic job, you will meet some great friends and character's along the way, it will give opportunities to experience what few in the police are even aware of, let alone experience, beyond the ARV role.

But all this comes with a price. You may be expected to make a life changing/ending decision in a heartbeat, which will then be dissected over years by those who sit behind the safety of a desk. But that doesn't stop me and others doing what we believe is right every day, but that's just what coppers do across the country every day armed or not. 

So yes we need improvements, but we also need to be balanced when debating the post incident procedures. Being completely negative, will not help those thinking of starting a career in armed policing make an informed decision.

As someone famous once said "It's not the critic that counts..." 😉

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