Ministry Proposes Military Backup as Armed London Police Relinquish Firearms

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In an unforeseen development, the Ministry of Defence is proposing a plan to back up armed police with military personnel in London, following the withdrawal of dozens of Metropolitan Police officers from firearms duty. More than a hundred officers have relinquished their firearms carry permits, contributing to discernible ripples in the force of over 2,500 armed officers.

The move comes in the aftermath of an officer being criminally charged in connection with the fatal shooting of an unarmed civilian – Chris Kaba, aged 24. This event has precipitated internal disputes within the Met, with Met Chief, Sir Mark Rowley, advocating for a review of armed policing protocols by the home office.

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With some officers expressing apprehensions about the risks associated with weapons duty and its potential legal implications, former members of the force have also spoken up on the issue. A recent retiree from the Met’s specialist firearms command explained that the concern was not one of anger or protest, but rather around officers analyzing the risk factor to themselves and their families, while ultimately questioning whether the job is worth the inherent dangers.

A significant number of officers turning in their firearms licenses could potentially precipitate a crisis, and the Ministry of Defence has informed the Home Office that military aid could be provided for routine counter-terrorism support, if required. This proposal, termed as Military Aid to the Civil Authorities (MACA), is typically extended during emergency situations, and has been instrumental during the Covid-19 pandemic and previous instances involving disruptions in border staff and paramedic services.

Backed by the Prime Minister, the Home Secretary Suella Braverman has been resolute, stating unequivocally that she will do “everything within her power” to support the firearms officers, calling for more clarity and protection in their line of duty. The London Assembly figures reveal that as of April, there were 2,595 authorized firearm officers within the Met Police, a number that has been seeing a steady annual decrease since 2018.

Speaking on recent events, Met Police Commissioner, Sir Mark, argues against a system that permits a legal investigation of officers for pursuing suspects within the capacities of training and tactics provided to them. While improper conduct should be swiftly reprimanded, he believes that years of legal proceedings for officers acting within their professional boundaries can be detrimental to their morale and efficiency.

A year-round review between March 2022 and March 2023 showed that the Met participated in 18,395 firearms operations, amounting to 204% of all firearms operations across England and Wales, with only 10 incidents wherein an officer was compelled to open fire.

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