The number of firearms officers in London is to be boosted to ensure the Met can provide the “fast response” necessary to deal with terror attacks.
Met Commissioner Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe says he reviewed the force’s ability to respond to terror incidents following last year’s Paris terror attacks and has concluded that an additional 600 extra armed officers are needed.
The increase will take the total number of armed police in the capital to 2,800, although not all will be deployed at any one time.
Sir Bernard said: “It is my job to make sure that the Met has plans in place to keep the people of London as safe as they can be.
“The tragic attacks in Paris reinforced the vital role that firearms officers would be called upon to play on behalf of all of us, to run forward and confront the deadly threat that such attackers would pose.
“Whilst I sincerely hope it is something that never happens on our streets, it is only right that the Met are as ready as can be.”
The Commissioner said today’s decision “will not change the fundamental principle that police in this country are not routinely armed,” and stressed that “around 92%” of Met will remain unarmed.
Sir Bernard recently said it was important that any increase in firearms officer numbers didn’t lure officers willing to volunteer for the extra duties away from neighbouring forces and so impact on their ability to protect other areas of the UK.
Today he confirmed that the Met would seek to recruit the extra officers from within its own ranks.
Labour’s policing spokesperson at City Hall, Joanne McCartney AM, welcomed Sir Bernard’s statement but has called on the Government to ensure the Met’s counter terrorism work is fully funded.
Ms McCartney commented: “The Met have warned for months that their counter-terrorism budgets are being stretched by the increase in threats.
“The Government need to take this issue seriously and stump up the money they have long promised. Counter-terrorism in the capital cannot be done on the cheap.”
The Commissioner’s decision has also been supported by Conservative party Mayoral candidate Zac Goldsmith who said: “I strongly back the Met Commissioner’s decision to boost armed officers numbers to keep London safe.”