Fewer armed officers than in 2009 report reveals
There is an upward trend in the number of firearms officers, but there are still fewer than in 2009.
Home Office Stats have revealed that there are now 6,459 armed officers in England and Wales, compared to 6,012 in 2009.
Meanwhile, the number of police firearms operations have gone up by 19 per cent since 2010/11 to 18,746.
Twelve incidents of firearms being discharged where also recorded in 2017 – two more than last year, meaning less than 1% of armed deployments end in weapons being fired.
Those figures include the London Bridge attack during which three terrorists were shot dead.
National Police Chiefs’ Council Lead on Armed Policing Simon Chesterman said the figures backed up armed officers’ professionalism.
“It is testament to their professionalism that only 0.06 per cent of armed deployments end with a firearm actually being discharged,” he said.
“These officers are trained first and foremost to try and resolve incidents without firing a shot.
“The threat from international terrorism and increases in violent crime have both contributed to an increase in the numbers of armed deployments.
“A significant proportion of these will be where armed officers have been deployed as a contingency, for example at public events where there are large crowds in order to keep people safe,” he added.
London saw more armed officers take to the streets than any other force area in the last year, while the highest growth in firearms operations came in West Mercia, which recorded a 53% increase in incidents from 2016.
The Home Office report stated that the ‘use of firearms by the police should always be a last resort, considered only where there is a serious risk to public or police safety.
'However, where an operational need arises, specialist armed officers should be available to be deployed.'