More firearms officers to be recruited in Devon and Cornwall

Armed police
Image caption Devon and Cornwall Police is recruiting more armed officers

More firearms officers are being recruited to improve armed response cover in Devon and Cornwall, the BBC has learned.

The number of officers is being increased by just under 15 per cent from 105 to 120.

The police say it is not in response to any new threat, but part of a revised strategy to improve security.

The move follows a review of firearms cover, particularly in the more rural areas of the two counties.

The force is advertising for qualified firearms officers to join from other police areas.

Simon Hall, BBC South West Home Affairs correspondent

It's a proud tradition of British policing to be largely unarmed, even in these days of an enhanced terrorist threat.

This may be a significant increase in the number of officers in Devon and Cornwall who carry guns, but nonetheless the proportion of armed police in the force still remains a small fraction of its total strength.

That sees Devon and Cornwall remain true to the unarmed principle of British policing, as well as reflecting the fact that this is a low crime area.

Some will also be recruited from Devon and Cornwall's own staff.

All firearms officers are volunteers.

Chief Supt Jim Nye, head of operations, said a strategic threat assessment for firearms cover in Devon and Cornwall had been carried out, using intelligence and the history of firearms incidents.

The force had cover to deal with expected threats, but senior officers had decided they wanted to ensure there was sufficient cover in more remote parts of the two counties.

"It's important to emphasise this is not in response to any new threat," he said.

The new officers will take up their posts next year.

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