Cautious welcome for police firearms cash

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EXTRA cash to fund firearms police has been cautiously welcomed by the county’s crime commissioner.

The Home Office said £143m will be spent, along with cash from the 43 forces, to train 1,500 firearms officers.

But Simon Hayes, police and crime commissioner for Hampshire, said it was unclear how much cash Hampshire police will receive.

He said: ‘I cautiously welcome this announcement from the Home Office, because I have been calling for additional firearms capacity in Hampshire Constabulary for some time.

‘However, it is currently unclear how much money the government is making available to us, and whether this funding will provide the extra capacity into the long term.

‘I will also be pressing the Home Secretary to confirm that this additional expenditure to protect our national security will not be taken from neighbourhood policing.’

He said neighbourhood policing is essential to counter-terrorism.

It comes as Hampshire and Thames Valley Police, which runs its 268 firearms officers together, is in discussions with neighbouring forces, including Surrey, Kent and Sussex.

They form the South East Regional Counter-Terrorism Unit.

The forces are currently discussing whether to increase the number of standard firearms officers, or increase counter-terrorism firearms officers, The News understands.

Scott Chilto, temporary assistant chief constable Joint Operations for Hampshire Constabulary and Thames Valley Police, said: ‘We have been working with regional partners across the South East for some time to make sure that, when recruited and trained, these resources will be deployed to best effect.

‘We will be announcing more details of the specific local plans for Hampshire and Thames Valley in the coming weeks.’

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