Firearms increase positive, but at what expense?

03 August 2016

Firearms officer

While today's news by the Metropolitan Police Service, to deploy an additional 600 firearm officers across the capital to help keep the public safe from a terrorist attack, is positive, it comes at a cost, and there are questions about how the gaps that are created will be filled, warns the Police Federation of England and Wales.

Steve White, Chair of the Police Federation of England and Wales, said: “Counter terrorism is an absolute priority for the police service, and the UK as a whole, in light of recent world events. But, we must remember that this uplift in is not about additional officers. The majority will have been moved from other front line roles, meaning the already very thin blue line is being stretched yet again."

With Police and Crime Commissioners and Chief Constables having to make very difficult decisions on how best to manage budgets, against competing priorities, it has never been more important to build effective relationships with local communities.

Steve White continued: “Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe rightly referenced neighbourhood policing as crucial in the fight against terrorism, but the reduction in resources over the last couple of years is stark. People want to call the police or, better still, speak to an officer with the confidence they can raise sensitive issues. However, many forces have had to reduce neighbourhood policing to help manage increasing workloads.

“The reality is, if everything is a priority, then nothing is a priority. The Prime Minister has this week outlined the government’s commitment to tackle modern day slavery, an extremely important issue, as is the sexual exploitation of children and other increasing areas of crime. But, given the current climate and the rise in potential threats, counter terrorism and preparedness, including adequate levels of trained firearms officers, must be at the top of the list.”

It is also important to be conscious that a terror attack is likely to affect more than one city and appropriate planning and resourcing must go beyond that of the big cities.

"If there is an attack, it is unlikely to be an isolated incident and work must continue to ensure we have the resources across the country to manage this.”