British Police forces in the UK are set to train an extra 1,500 officers in firearms usage, in an effort to help combat terrorism.
According to the BBC, the move will reverse a drop in the numbers of firearms-qualified officers, which downsized about 1,125 of their force strength from 2009-2014.
The majority of firearms-trained officers will be deployed in rapid-reaction teams, which will be active around the clock in the form of patrol units.
According to Parliament the new officers will be serving backup and complementary roles for military contingency plans already in place- which calls for the deployment 10,000 troops domestically in the event of an attack.
Most of the new officers will be government-funded, receiving training within the next two years.
Last year, Prime Minister David Cameron appropriated £143m (over $203m) towards bosting the UK’s armed response capabilities over five years.
“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,” Cameron said during a recent visit to the US.
“After the terrorist attacks in France 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.”
Many in the UK (and especially the US) feel that the British police are quite vulnerable to armed terrorism attacks and require more armed officers.
“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,” said Mark Williams, chief executive of the Police Firearms Officers Association.
“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.”
Many officers fear that their colleagues may hesitate to fire, fearing the possibility of criminal charges after they pull the trigger.
Independent Police Complaints Commission deputy chair Sarah Green said firearms officers worked in “challenging circumstances” but it was “right that police shootings resulting in death or serious injury are independently investigated”.
An additional 40 armed response vehicles and teams are set to be operational within the year, bringing the total number of teams across the country to 150, with London’s strength being doubled.
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