Vast Majority of Brits Back Arming Police After Officer Hospitalised in London Bridge Attack

armed police
AFP/Oli Scarff

The vast majority of Brits have backed routinely arming police constables after the London Bridge terror attacks.

Sky Data “interviewed a nationally representative sample of 1,581 Sky customers” and found that an overwhelming 72 per cent of respondents believe the police should now be armed as a matter of course, compared with 20 per cent who do not.

Excluding respondents who said they neither supported nor opposed the routine arming or were unsure about it, 78 per cent are supportive and 22 per cent are opposed.

The results come after an as yet unnamed British Transport Police constable who arrived on the scene of the London Bridge attack early on was forced to take on Khuram Shazad Butt, Rachid Redouane, and Youssef Zaghba with nothing but an extendable baton. He is currently in hospital with serious injuries.

The trio, who ploughed through pedestrians on London Bridge in a hired van and sprang out with knives, attacking bystanders indiscriminately, were at large for eight minutes before specialist firearms officers shot them dead.

British Transport Police Chief Constable Paul Crowther, who visited the “seriously unwell” constable in hospital, said “he showed enormous courage in the face of danger, as did many others who were at the scene and rushed to help.

“Although he is seriously unwell, he was able to recount how he faced the attackers armed only with his baton, outside London Bridge station.

“For an officer who only joined us less than two years ago, the bravery he showed was outstanding and makes me extremely proud.

“All of us at BTP wish him a swift recovery, and I know he will be touched by the hundreds of messages of support from across the UK and the world.”

Senior former police constables such as Peter Kirkham have said that claims there are more armed police than ever are “lies”, and an investigation by Full Fact suggests that there are, in fact, around 700 fewer armed police than in 2010, with numbers not set to return to 2010 levels for years.

As home secretary in 2015, Theresa May warned it was likely that entire police forces would lose their firearms teams and be forced to share capacity.

Concerns have been expressed by a number of heavyweight commentators, including BBC interrogator-in-chief Andrew Neil, that British police would struggle to deal with terrorists outside major cities like London, where armed personnel are concentrated.

Regular officers stopped Mohamed Lahouaiej, the Nice attacker with their sidearms. Anis Amri, who drove a lorry into a Christmas market in Berlin, was stopped by a rookie officer Luca Scatà in Milan – but not before Amri shot and injured his partner.

Follow Jack Montgomery on Twitter: @JackBMontgomery


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