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Officers who carry firearms volunteer to do so. We continue to lobby and campaign so that those officers who do volunteer for such a role can feel confident that all has been done to protect their safety; this means the provision of appropriate, reliable equipment and sufficient back-up officers, should they be required. British armed police are the best trained and most restrained in the world.
Support for AFOs through Post Incident Procedures
Our reps are trained to have the skills and knowledge to best support officers through the Post Incident Procedure (PIP) process. Following any incident involving a police firearm being used, that incident must be scrutinised and lessons learned, but this must be balanced against the support that the officers involved in the incident require - our workplace reps help to ensure that PIPs are fair to officers. Nationally, we have also worked with the College of Policing to make sure the Authorised Professional Practice (APP) provides the necessary protection and support.
The treatment of AFOs by the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC)
We want to ensure AFOs are treated fairly by the IOPC. At our Annual Conference in 2018, our firearms lead Che Donald stated that the IOPC are making firearms officers feel like “suspects rather than witnesses” after a death or serious incident. An investigation following a death or serious incident is always necessary, but we feel our members should be treated fairly and transparently. We are continuing to engage with the IOPC to review the way in which they conduct their investigations to ensure it is fair to officers.
What is the Federation’s position on the routine arming of police officers?
In the summer of 2017, we undertook a survey to determine the current views of our members regarding the routine arming of police officers.
Just over a third (34%) personally supported the idea of routine arming, compared to 23% in 2006, but 55.2% said they would be prepared to carry a firearm if it was decided all officers should be armed on or off duty. This was an increase from 44.6% in 2006.
The greatest support, 42.5%, was for firearms to not be issued routinely to all officers, but for more to receive training and be issued with firearms as and when needed.
What is the Federation’s position on increasing the number of AFOs across the service?
In 2017, recorded knife crime went up 20%, the highest number in seven years, alongside a 23% increase in gun crime and 18% rise in violent crime. We continue to push for more police officers to be trained specifically as AFOs.