Police officers are rarely seen carrying guns in the UK.
That’s because only 5,639 authorised firearms officers (AFOs) patrol our streets – eight fewer than the previous year -according to the latest figures released in 2016, totalling 4.4 per cent of all British police officers.
According to the Home Office, there were 14,753 police firearms operations in the year ending March 2016, and seven incidents in which police discharged their guns.
Thankfully, it’s a rare occurrence for a British AFO to deploy their weapon.
Evidently, when a police officer does shoot a firearm, the seriousness of the situation must justify the artillery response.
Government data shows the number of incidents necessitating deployment of a firearm have risen marginally in recent years.
The most recent case, the attack on Westminster on Wednesday afternoon, is a tragic example of justified police force.
Khalid Masood was shot at three times, bringing an end to his brief but devastating attack within six minutes. The 52-year-old’s wounds later proved to be fatal.
In a statement given at New Scotland Yard in the hours after the attack, Commander BJ Harrington said:
Officers were already in the location as part of our routine policing operation. Immediately, additional officers were sent to the scene and that included firearms officers.
Yesterday, Theresa May PM reassured the public of their safety, announcing:
We are stepping up policing to reassure the public and as a precautionary measure it will mean increasing patrols in cities across the country, with more police and more armed police on the streets.
The Prime Minister also payed homage to the fallen police office, PC Keith Palmer, who was fatally stabbed by the terrorist.
According to the College of Policing, the UN set out a basic code of practise for deploying firearms in conflict situations, which the British Police Department endeavour to follow to the letter.
The organisation added, ‘The overall context is set out within a human rights framework.’
A union survey of The Metropolitan Police showed the nearly half of our officers feel more firearms specialists are needed, and 75 per cent want to be issued with Tasers.
Six per cent also felt the the number of AFOs is ‘inadequate’.