After scores of Met police officers resigned from guns responsibilities, the Ministry of Defence offered soldiers to assist London’s armed police. A source told the BBC that more than 100 officers have returned their gun licences. The Metropolitan Police Department has almost 2,500 armed officers.
Following the arrest of an officer on murder charges in the shooting death of 24-year-old unarmed Chris Kaba, police announced they were taking the decisive step. Sir Mark Rowley, head of the Metropolitan Police Department, hailed a review of police use of force by the Home Office.
It’s admirable that he wants his police to be “held to the highest standards,” he wrote to the home secretary, but he thinks the existing system undermines his officers and implies they need greater legal protections.
On Thursday, a member of the Metropolitan Police Department was in court. The Metropolitan Police released a statement saying some officers were “worried” about the “impacts on them” the Crown Prosecution Service’s decision to file a charge could have on their careers.
An ex-cop who left the Met police specialised guns command in recent months said the danger to police and their families “is just too great” on the BBC Radio. He said, “What is obvious to me, they are not acting out of anger or petulance,” but he remained unnamed.
“This is not a planned demonstration. These are people who have families and significant others yet still devote a great deal of time to their work.
Armed soldiers to aid police forces
They’re really worried that it’s not going to pay off in the end. A deployment of armed troops to aid police forces, he said, would be “a very sad day.” A former firearms officer with the Metropolitan Police Department has called the deployment of troops “a wake-up call.”
The Ministry of Defence (MoD) has said that the Home Office has requested that it “provide routine counter-terrorism contingency support to the Metropolitan Police, should it be needed” under the Military Aid to the Civil Authorities (Maca) programme.
In times of crisis, the military is ready to provide a MACA to the police or the NHS. For example, during the Covid epidemic, the military assisted medical workers and last year, the military covered for striking border staff and paramedics.
The Metropolitan Police Department called it a “contingency option” that would be employed “in specific circumstances and where an appropriate policing response was not available.”
Using military personnel “in a routine policing capacity” was also specifically excluded.
The majority of armed police in the capital are still Met officers, according to a statement released by the department on Saturday, albeit they are receiving assistance from a small number of guns officers from other London police departments.
In April, the Met Police had 2,595 authorised weapons officers, according to data from the London Assembly. Since 2018, when there were 2,841 licenced gun owners, the number has dropped each year.
Need for “clarity” for the armed police
According to Home Secretary Suella Braverman, who made the announcement, “the public relies on the courageous work of our firearms officers to keep us safe.”
For the sake of public safety, they must make split-second judgements while under intense pressure. She went on to say that police have her “full backing” and that she will do “everything” she can to back them up.
While supporting the home secretary’s assessment on Monday, the prime minister emphasised the need for “clarity” for the armed police.
“Our firearms officers do an incredibly difficult job,” Rishi Sunak stated in Hertfordshire. They deserve our gratitude for making split-second decisions that can save lives to keep us safe. The Met Police commissioner wrote to the home secretary saying that a system where officers are investigated for “safely pursuing suspects” is not acceptable.
The difficulties addressed in this letter, Sir Mark remarked, “go back further” than any pending legal matters. He implied that police who use firearms worry about being sued for years, even if they follow departmental protocols.
Officers require “adequate legal protection” so that they may “do their job and keep the public safe,” as Sir Mark put it, and they must have faith that the law will be enforced uniformly and without bias.
However, he argued that the system “needs to move swiftly” when officers behave inappropriately.
Discontent among officers
Sir Peter Fahy, a former head of police in Greater Manchester, has stated that he does not think any assessment would be “broad enough,” and that there are problems with morale and how police combat organised crime.
He mentioned “issues about intelligence and information” in an interview with Today, saying that they frequently arose when police confronted suspects believed to be armed.
With a “huge gulf” between policing and the Home Office, “it is part of a bigger picture where there is a huge level of discontent among ordinary police officers,” Sir Peter added.
Officers believe the media and politicians are out of touch with the realities of patrolling the streets and that the criticism they receive is unfair.
Jean Charles De Menezes was killed in 2005 at Stockwell Tube station by police who mistook him for a terrorist suspect; his family was represented by attorney Harriet Wistrich.
The law has been thoroughly examined and applied to encompass everyone, she said on Today, and that includes weapons officers.
“No one is above the law and neither should these officers be above the law,” Ms. Wistrich asserted. “Many people have died at the hands of police, and there is almost never a prosecution.”
She advocated giving officers “the power to essential take somebody’s life” with great caution.
An additional quote from the attorney read as follows: “Officers who put themselves forward to perform this role have to know they have to perform it with great care because ultimately a life can be lost.”
The Home Office reports that there were 18,395 firearms operations in England and Wales between March 2022 and March 2023, with the Met Police responsible for 20% of those. There were just 10 cases in which an officer fired their weapon throughout the time period in England and Wales.
A member of the Met Police opened fire into a car in Streatham, south London, on September 5, 2022, killing Mr. Kaba inside. The construction worker, who was only a few months away from fatherhood when he was shot, passed away the day after he was taken to the hospital.
Police then linked the Audi Mr. Kaba was driving (which did not belong to him) to a shooting that had occurred the day before. There were many demonstrations after his death.