All cops in London to be asked if they want to carry guns

Xinhua | Updated: 2017-01-10 01:00

LONDON - London's 32,000 police officers are to be surveyed to see if they want to be routinely armed with a gun while on duty in Britain's capital, it was announced Monday.

All cops in London to be asked if they want to carry guns

Armed Metropolitan Police counter terrorism officers take part in an exercise on the River Thames in London, Britain August 3, 2016.  [Photo\Agencies]

It will be the biggest ever survey of officers from London's Metropolitan Police and comes in the wake of terror attacks in major European cities.

The question of guns will be put to the police officers by their trade union, the Police Federation.

Although all police forces in Britain have specially trained armed response teams, police have never carried guns as a standard part of their weaponry.

The view has always been that arming police officers as standard would affect the philosophy of policing in Britain. In London, just 8 percent of officers are armed with guns.
The Metropolitan Police last year announced plans to increase the number of armed police in the capital by 600, bringing the total to almost 3,000.

Ken Marsh, London chairman of the Police Federation said "We've seen a lot of change in Europe and a lot of different kinds of terror attacks such as lorries being used.
"We're not an armed force, we never have been. 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."

"We're asking our officers if they think they should be armed with Tasers and firearms to get an informed opinion from them. If it comes back overwhelmingly that they want to carry firearms we would have to have a very frank discussion about that, but there is no intention as we speak for that to happen."

However, Marsh said arming officers could have a lot of implications, including harder fitness tests for officers.

Armed police at major locations and transport hubs in London have become a familiar sight especially at times of high alert or following attacks in mainland Europe.

Britain has been on a higher alert against international terrorism for some years, meaning an attack is highly likely.

Although the extra 600 firearms officers in London were pledged following the Paris terrorist attacks, bosses at the Metropolitan Police have said they do not support the routine arming of its officers in London.

A spokesman for the Metropolitan Police 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."

The Police Federation survey will continue until the end of January.


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