Concern over the number of officers who will be willing to carry firearms

Police Officers are becoming far more wary of voluntarily carrying firearms.

Simon Chesterman, NPCC armed policing lead, told an NPCC/APCC summit in November that “we could be sleepwalking into having to mandate officers to carry firearms”.

Zoë Wakefield, Hampshire Police Federation Chair, said: “Taking on the responsibility of carrying a firearm is really admirable and I take my hat off to anyone who’s willing to do that.

“Most of our firearms officers have always loved the role. Officers in our firearms training department say they’ve always expected that if they shoot somebody, then there will be an investigation and maybe a ruling of unlawful killing at an inquest. But they said they’d never thought they could end up being charged with murder, and that does make it a very different prospect.”

One officer has just pulled out of an upcoming training course because of the outcome of the Met case, and officers are becoming significantly more cautious and wary, she said.

Zoë added: “We don’t want officers carrying firearms and then not pulling the trigger when they really need to, because they’re worried they’re going to get charged with murder.

“I think all chief constables need to look at this and need to be communicating with firearms officers, but I think also more needs to be done with the IOPC. Officers need to know what they are potentially putting themselves in place for. I don’t understand how they would mandate officers to carry firearms, because it’s voluntary and it’s such a potentially serious role. I’m not sure they could force an officer to carry a firearm, if they didn’t want to.”

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