The Metropolitan Police in London have announced that the Army is no longer required to support them after hundreds of officers stepped back from firearms duties. This decision comes after an officer was charged with the murder of Chris Kaba, who was shot last September. Over the weekend, up to 300 armed officers turned in their permits allowing them to carry weapons, leading to the deployment of soldiers on standby.
However, the Met Police stated on social media that a sufficient number of officers had returned to armed duties, making external assistance unnecessary to meet their counterterrorism responsibilities.
They did mention that a limited number of armed officers from other forces would continue to support non-counterterrorism armed policing.
The request for military aid came from the Home Office, and although the military could have been used in the event of a terror attack, the Met clarified that armed forces personnel would not have been utilized in routine policing activities.
The National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC) confirmed that mutual aid is routinely used across the country to ensure public safety. Some police forces, such as Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire, and Hertfordshire, have sent officers to offer support, while Leicestershire Police declined for the time being. Several other forces reported that they had not received any requests for assistance.
The decision to charge the officer involved in Chris Kaba’s murder has caused concerns among the armed officers. Many officers have chosen to step back from armed duties while they consider their position. The Met expressed their understanding of the worries faced by the officers and stated that discussions were ongoing to address these concerns.
The Prime Minister, Rishi Sunak, has backed a review of armed policing guidelines that was ordered by the home secretary. This review is expected to conclude by the end of the year. Rishi Sunak praised the bravery of firearms officers and emphasized their importance in keeping the public safe.
However, a former officer who recently left the Met’s specialist firearms command highlighted the risks faced by officers and their families. He stated that officers are concerned about the potential for years of legal proceedings, even if they follow the tactics and training they have been given. The officer argued that officers need sufficient legal protection to carry out their job effectively while also ensuring the system moves swiftly when officers act improperly.
Home Office figures reveal that the Met Police accounted for 20% of firearms operations in England and Wales between March 2022 and March 2023. During this time, there were only 10 incidents across the country where an officer opened fire at a person.
The tragic death of Chris Kaba resulted in protests, and his case has brought attention to the challenges faced by armed officers and the need for comprehensive guidelines and support.
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