The number of armed police officers trained to deal with terror attacks in London is to increase by a third in the wake of the Paris terror attacks, with the total number eventually doubling, the head of the Metropolitan Police has said.
Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe, chief of London’s police force, also said that rest days for armed response officers had been cancelled so the UK capital can maintain 24/7 protection.
The Times says that currently only around 400 officers out of 32,000 are armed and capable of tackling terrorist threats on London’s streets. A further 1,600 armed officers are reserved for diplomatic protection and airport security.
Sir Bernard said he wants to double the number of officers trained to use firearms to 4,000 in the near future, but he added the number of armed response officer will increase “straight away”.
“I think what Paris showed us, with so many attackers with so many scenes, moving around at speed… we need to have a mobile reserve,” he said.
“We’re working on plans now so that in the short period of time we’ve got an extra third on top of the core provision.
“The armed response vehicle element we’re increasing by a third straight away. But then the overall pool I want to increase by a third overall and also at any one time, on duty, probably double.”
“We don’t want to knee-jerk towards a new type of policing where everybody’s armed,” he added. “I don’t think anybody’s arguing for that, but this type of attack shows that the police have got to be ready.”
Senior officers now plan to lobby the Home Office over concerns there are not enough armed police in Britain to cope with simultaneous, coordinated firearms attacks. They want the government to guard funding for firearms units in the same way they protect the anti-terrorism budget.
The Metropolitan Police are currently facing a cut in the overall number of officers by 5,000 as part of £800 million government savings.