Police in England and Wales are starting to train around 1,500 extra firearms officers to help protect the public from terrorism.
The Home Office is providing £143 million of new funding to assist forces in areas of greatest risk. The money is on top of that already pledged by individual chief constables to increase the number of armed officers under their command.
In total around 1,000 officers will be trained and equipped as a result of the government grant, which will be spread over five years. The majority of these will be deployed in highly mobile, rapid reaction teams – on patrol and ready to react 24/7. Other officers will receive even more specialised training to deal with a wider range of terrorism threats. They will be based in major cities outside London, adding to the numbers of existing counter terrorism teams.
Individual forces are also making more money available to increase their overall numbers of authorised firearms users. This will result in a further 500 who are locally funded.
In addition to the extra officers, uplift funds will also be used to increase the number of high speed armed response vehicles available. The Home Office grant will up the numbers by 30 percent to around 150 in key regions - but added to local funding the eventual number of crewed vehicles operating around the clock will be between 170 and 190 country-wide.
The recruitment and training programme for new officers is already underway. Numbers completing the courses will increase incrementally with most qualifying within a year, and all by April 2018.
National Police Chiefs’ Council lead for Armed Policing, Deputy Chief Constable Simon Chesterman says:
“Over recent years we have significantly enhanced the training, tactics and weaponry of armed officers to ensure that they are capable of dealing with all types of terrorist attacks. We have also delivered enhanced capability across all emergency services to deliver an effective joint response.
“This additional uplift will ensure we are in an even stronger position to respond quickly and effectively to protect the public.”
Prime Minister David Cameron says:
“Our police and intelligence agencies work round the clock to keep us safe and it is absolutely vital that we support them with the right resources and kit. After the Charlie Hebdo attack in Paris last year, we decided to look at whether there was more we could do to protect people from the type of terrorist threat we now face. That’s why we are increasing the number of specially trained armed officers up and down the country to make sure the police have greater capability to respond swiftly and effectively should they need to do so.”