London

Met officers to be asked if they want to carry guns

  • 17 January 2017
  • From the section London
Two armed police officers patrol the streets around Whitehall, central London Image copyright Associated Press
Image caption All members of the Metropolitan Police Federation will be asked if they would be willing to carry a gun or a Taser.

Thousands of Met Police officers are to be asked if they want to be routinely armed with a gun or Taser.

A survey by the Metropolitan Police Federation will consult all its members on their views about equipping officers with weapons.

An extra 600 firearms officers in London have been pledged following the Paris terrorist attacks.

Scotland Yard said it did not support the routine arming of officers.

Does the presence of armed police reassure people?

Ken Marsh, chairman of the Federation, which represents 32,000 officers in London, said it was "only fair" to ask police what they wanted amid a "constant" terror threat.

Questions being put to officers in the survey include:

  • Whether they would want to carry a Taser or firearm at all times while on duty
  • If they think there should be more firearms officers in London
  • If the thought of carrying a gun would make them leave the job
Image caption An increased number of firearms officers has been promised at some of the capital's most famous locations

"We're not an armed force, we never have been" said Mr Marsh.

"But the terrorism threat in London is constant and our officers must be vigilant and be able to deal swiftly with any scenarios we face.

The threat level for international terrorism in the UK has been severe - meaning an attack is highly likely - since August 2014.

Mr Marsh added arming officers could have a "lot of implications" - including harder fitness tests for officers.

"This is not about just giving someone a gun and saying 'get out there'" he said "there's a huge amount of work that would need to be done".

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption In July, 86 people were killed when a lorry ploughed into Bastille Day crowds in Nice

Nationally, the number of armed police is being increased by 1,500.

Unlike most other countries most officers in the UK are unarmed.

Metropolitan Police and firearms

Figures as at March 2016

2,139

authorised firearms officers

6.7%

of the total police ranks

  • 3,974 police firearms operations between March 2015 and March 2016

  • 7 incidents where police firearms were discharged in 2015-16

Getty Images

A Scotland Yard spokesman said: "We are proud to maintain the tradition that police in this country are not routinely armed.

"Twice in recent years the Met has increased the number of specially-trained officers who carry Taser, and this is kept under constant review."

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