London Police Consider Deploying Openly Armed Officers in Gang Areas

LONDON, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 16: An armed police officer patrols in Horse Guards Parade on September 16, 2017 in London, England. An 18-year-old man has been arrested in Dover in connection with yesterday's terror attack on Parsons Green station in which 30 people were injured. The UK terror threat level …
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London’s Metropolitan Police are considering sending visibly armed officers on patrol in gang-plagued residential areas, amidst the city’s on-going violent crime wave.

The move is almost unprecedented on mainland Britain, excluding Northern Ireland during the conflict years, with the Metropolitan Police previously restricting patrols with visible firearms to high profile areas at risk of a terror attack, such as the Palace of Westminster, Whitehall, and Buckingham Palace.

Cressida Dick, the force’s commissioner, told the London assembly Thursday that armed officers would now take a “very short foot patrol in extreme circumstances” in areas where there was intelligence of potential violence.

She said that she was aware of the “sensitivity” of armed patrols but insisted it was not a move towards officers routinely carrying weapons. “This is so far from this, I cannot tell you,” she said.

Rather, the move was specifically aimed at dangerous gangs, she said, and it comes as recorded knife crime hits record levels in the capital and the murder rate surges to it highest in nearly a decade.

Defending the proposed changes, Ms Dick explained that 40 per cent of killings in the capital were gang-related and that officers needed to be able to adjust to the problem.

Assistant Commissioner Sir Stephen House played down the news in a statement. He said: “We are not considering routine deployments of armed officers in our communities.

“As part of our response to the increase in violent crime in London we are examining how our armed officers can provide extra support and augment other units, either in response to a serious assault, or to be deployed to areas where we have intelligence that serious violence is imminent.

“Any deployments would be for a limited time only and done in consultation with local policing commanders, and after a community impact assessment had been carried out.

“Our consultation into the extended, yet limited, use of armed police is at an early stage. We will continue to work closely with a range of stakeholders as we discuss operational options in the fight against violence to help protect communities.”

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