How does the Federation work to protect Authorised Firearms Officers (AFOs)?
Officers who carry firearms volunteer to do so. We continue to lobby and campaign so that those officers who do volunteer for such a role can feel confident that all has been done to protect their safety; this means the provision of appropriate, reliable equipment and sufficient back-up officers, should they be required. British armed police are the best trained and most restrained in the world.
Support for AFOs through Post Incident Procedures
Our reps are trained to have the skills and knowledge to best support officers through the Post Incident Procedure (PIP) process. Following any incident involving a police firearm being used, that incident must be scrutinised and lessons learned, but this must be balanced against the support that the officers involved in the incident require - our workplace reps help to ensure that PIPs are fair to officers. Nationally, we have also worked with the College of Policing to make sure the Authorised Professional Practice (APP) provides the necessary protection and support.
The treatment of AFOs by the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC)
We want to ensure AFOs are treated fairly by the IPCC. At our Annual Conference this year, our firearms lead Che Donald stated that the IPCC are making firearms officers feel like “suspects rather than witnesses” after a death or serious incident. An investigation following a death or serious incident is always necessary, but we feel our members should be treated fairly and transparently. We are continuing to engage with the IPCC to review the way in which they conduct their investigations to ensure it is fair to officers.
What is the Federation’s position on the routine arming of police officers?
We recently undertook a study to determine the current views of our members regarding the routine arming of police officers. The results are expected shortly. Previous surveys on the issue have found that the majority of officers do not want to be routinely armed.
In the UK, officers police by the consent of the public and would not want anything to interfere with their ability to work in that way. However, there are situations which, in order to protect the public, armed officers are required.
What is the Federation’s position on increasing the number of AFOs across the service?
In 2017, recorded knife crime went up 20%, the highest number in seven years, alongside a 23% increase in gun crime and 18% rise in violent crime. We continue to push for more police officers to be trained specifically as AFOs.