Shortage in firearms officers means ‘not enough to deal with current threat’

John Apter, chairman of Hampshire Police Federation.  Picture: Sarah Standing (160563-567)
John Apter, chairman of Hampshire Police Federation. Picture: Sarah Standing (160563-567)
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PLANS for extra firearms officers will not make up for a huge reduction in recent years, Hampshire’s police federation has warned.

It comes as the Police Federation of England and Wales said the national shortage is leaving Britain vulnerable to terror attacks.

Steve White, national chairman, said Government’s plans announced last month to train another 1,500 firearms officers to deal with the terror threat looked doubtful.

The warning comes as a survey of 16,800 officers shows that while 40% fear they will be attacked at work, just half this number (20%) have or want personal firearms.

He added: Before we even start talking about recruiting the extra 1,500, we are struggling to fill the vacancies we have currently got because of the lack of understanding and protection that officers would have if they have to discharge their firearm.’

And John Apter, Hampshire Police Federation chairman, is currently running a survey in the county on routine arming of police.

The survey is due to close on Friday.

Mr Apter said: ‘In effect we’re going to see a national decrease.

‘I question whether that is enough to deal with the current threat, not only from extremist groups but also as we’ve seen recently from the IRA.

‘It’s a real concern, that’s why I feel very strongly we need to have a very sensible discussion about the routine arming of officers.’

Mr Apter added the public and officers should be involved in the debate.