UK armed officers trained to shoot targets in moving vehicles
Britain’s armed police officers are being trained to shoot at targets behind the wheel of a moving vehicle under new rules to counter changing terrorist tactics following attacks in France, Germany, and recently in the UK. Simon Chesterman, Britain’s national spokesperson on firearms policing, said today that changing terrorist tactics had led security officials to review the norm of not shooting at drivers over fears of the impact on public lives. Vehicle attacks by terrorists in Nice, Berlin and most recently London have led the National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC) to issue new instructions to officers to shoot through the windscreens.
“We have seen some very horrible and different tactics lately involving vehicles and lorries. Within our policy, we used to talk about not shooting at a moving vehicle because of the danger we might cause if we fired at a driver. But if the vehicle is being used as a weapon in the first place, there aren’t many tactics available in relation to stopping it, particularly a very large lorry,” said Chesterman, the NPCC lead on firearms.
“Driving a vehicle in front of it is not going to stop it, so you need to shoot the driver… I’m confident that our armed response vehicle officers are equipped with the right weaponry and ammunition to stop a lorry,” he said, explaining that officers now have the kind of ammunition that can penetrate doors and windows of a vehicle. He also announced that the number of authorised firearms officers available to be deployed across England and Wales is to reach 10,500 by next year – an increase of about 1,500.
In April 2018, there will be about 7,000 armed police from the 43 forces in England and Wales, and 3,500 from other forces, including the Civil Nuclear Constabulary. The UK government is funding 1,000 extra armed officers, while forces are paying for 500 more. The goal is to increase numbers of two kinds of armed officers: those who are deployed in armed response vehicles (ARVs) – the first response to any shooting incident – and counter-terrorism specialist firearms officers (CTSFOs).
Chesterman, who is leading what is known officially as the armed uplift programme, said 41 more ARVs were now on patrol in high-risk areas – in line with targets. However, he admitted that forces were set to miss their target for recruiting the more elite CTSFOs. The recruitment drive for CTSFOs has been extended until the end of next year.
Last month, Khalid Masood killed four people on London’s Westminster Bridge when he mounted the pavement in a car at high speed and mowed down pedestrians before stabbing a police officer at the gates of Parliament.
The UK was already reviewing its armed policing capacity following the attacks that killed 130 in Paris in 2015.
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