BHH: 'We need less suspicion and more trust when police use firearms'
The outgoing Met Commissioner today called for greater public support for firearms officers, who volunteer on behalf of Londoners, and their unarmed colleagues to deal with terrorists and armed criminals.
The Commissioner ordered an increase of 600 highly-trained specialist officers after the attacks in Paris in November 2015. He subsequently expressed concern about the treatment of officers involved in shootings. One officer was charged with murder and acquitted in 2015.
The then Prime Minister, David Cameron, agreed to review the legal issues, and firearms officers await the outcome.
Speaking at the Royal United Services Institute today, Tuesday, 14 February, the Commissioner said: "When people look at what we do, there should be less suspicion and more trust".
The Commissioner revealed that Met officers were deployed to incidents involving firearms on more than 3,300 occasions in 2016, without firing a single shot at a suspect. But he reiterated his concern over armed criminality after a year in which nearly 700 firearms were recovered by officers in London and 12 people were shot dead by criminals.
The MPS plan to increase the number of armed officers is well on track with over 400 extra officers trained or selected to date.
Officers who volunteer for a specialist firearms role face a demanding training course, which a significant number do not pass. In addition, as existing officers retire from this highly trained role, others must take their place. This means the MPS is always seeking more volunteers.
The Commissioner added: "This a dangerous place to be - in two ways. We simply don't have enough people now wanting to do these jobs. The failure rate in training is high.
"Secondly, we can't afford to have officers think twice because they fear the consequences of shooting someone. That's how they get shot, or the public gets hurt or a criminal gets away with a gun."
The Commissioner highlighted comments made by Prime Minister Theresa May in an interview before Christmas in which she said officers were "unsung heroes".
He also praised the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, for meeting firearms officers at the first opportunity after his election and recognising their bravery and dedication.
Ken Marsh, Chairman of the Metropolitan Police Federation, referring to the Independent Police Complaints Commission, said: "We should be scrutinised but pendulum has swung too far".
He added that the force does not want to get to a situation where people do not want to volunteer.
Ken added: "When we're constantly lambasted by organisations like the IPCC you are going to find a situation where firearms officers won’t come forward"