- More armed officers being trained to deal with Paris-style gun attack on UK
- Met Police Commissioner wants to tackle ‘real and present’ threat of attack
- Confirmed 2,700 officers are currently authorised to carry guns in London
- Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe wants media to reduce live coverage of any siege
- Police chief said he ‘wants to ensure our ability to respond is not restricted’
Hundreds of extra armed officers are to be trained to deal with a Paris-style gun attack on British streets.
The country’s top police officer Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe wants to develop a reserve firearms squad to tackle the ‘real and present’ threat of a terrorist gun plot.
The Metropolitan Police Commissioner said the force had already deployed more armed officers on London’s streets to protect key sites in the wake of the slaughter of 12 people in an attack on the Paris offices of the Charlie Hebdo satirical magazine.
He also revealed that police were in discussions with media firms to restrict live coverage of terror events should an attack occur in the UK.
Referring to broadcasts of the Paris police operations, he said: ‘We want to ensure our ability to respond is not restricted by live coverage.’
Met officials are now talking to TV stations amid fears that live coverage of police raids could compromise operations.
Scotland Yard has seen a dramatic reduction in its firearms capacity in recent years, with the number of armed officers cut by 750.
But Sir Bernard yesterday announced plans to train members of the Territorial Support Group – often known as the riot squad – as an armed reserve in the event of a major terrorist attack.
Currently, 2,700 officers are authorised to carry guns in London.
The force is now reviewing the number it has available and one option is to create a reserve from the TSG.
Yesterday, the Commissioner admitted that protecting the public from the terror threat was an ‘imperfect science’ and police can’t make perfect decisions every time.
He told the police and crime committee at City Hall in London: ‘If you have multiple suspects, you can’t follow all of them all the time.
‘Nor can we guarantee we make a perfect assessment of the threat they pose today.
‘We believe we are coping with the threat at the moment.
‘We are looking to increase our resources but it is an imperfect science.
‘We are dealing with human beings here who sometimes change their mind.’
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He went on to say the current counter-terrorism measures in place were working.
‘It’s not too intrusive, it’s a reasonable system at the moment and it’s been effective.
‘But the threat is real and present.’
He also said the force was caught in a dilemma about whether to lone patrols amid fears that fanatics plan to target police officers.
’It’s a dilemma. We have done more double crews over the last few months but if we double crew everyone we halve our flexibility’, Sir Bernard said.
He told the committee there had been ‘really good support’ from the London community since the Paris attacks.
More parents of children at risk of being influenced to travel to Syria and Iraq were coming forward to police, Sir Bernard added.
Sir Bernard said the force was in discussion with the Government over more funding for counter-terror operations, adding: ‘Police need tens of millions of pounds more.’
His call for extra resources came on the day that the Association of Chief Police Officers said that funding cuts will mean forces can no longer deliver an effective service to the public.
Sussex Chief Constable Giles York, who is Acpo’s workforce development spokesman, issued the warning after it was revealed that officer numbers had sunk to their lowest level for 14 years.
‘We are concerned that if budget cuts continue in the current trend there will be a point in the future when forces are unable to deliver the effective and efficient service that the public expects,’ he said.
‘Each force comes to these financial challenges from a different starting point; some will be hit harder and feel the impact earlier than others.’
Home Office statistics showed there were 127,075 officers across the 43 forces covering England and Wales, down 1,295 in a year and around 17,000 fewer than in 2010.
All but 14 forces shed posts over the 12 months.
Yesterday, the Police Federation of England and Wales chairman Steve White said: ‘There can be no doubt that the drastic cuts in force budgets is doing real harm to the ability of the service to protect the public.
‘We hear that crime is falling but this only measures a snapshot of police activity. What we do not hear about is the extreme pressure these Government cuts are placing on officers’ ability to prevent terrorist attacks, manage sex offenders in the community, protect children from sexual exploitation and return missing persons to their families among other key issues.
‘Officers are at breaking point. You cannot create a better police service by imposing swingeing cuts on its budgets – all that will achieve is to cut the service officers are able to give the public.’
source: Mail Online