Police seek wider use of armed patrols

THE ROUTINE arming of Britain's police moved a step closer yesterday as one of the country's chief officers warned there could soon be regular armed patrols in inner-city trouble spots.

The call came as chief constables recommended allowing officers in existing fast-response vehicles to wear sidearms openly, and allowing more junior ranks to authorise the issue of firearms in emergencies.

Police are already developing all-purpose bullet- and stab-proof armour for patrolling officers and investigating the use of types of 'pepper' gas, in response to the rise in armed crime.

Speaking at the Association of Chief Police Officers' summer conference in Bournemouth, James Sharples, Chief Constable of Merseyside and outgoing chairman of the association's firearms committee, said forces would have to consider vehicle patrols by trained officers in areas where police were daily confronted by armed criminals.

Armed routine patrols 'could come sooner rather than later', he said. Although the rules surrounding them were being relaxed, existing Armed Response Vehicles (ARVs) - with teams of armed officers who are called to specific firearms incidents - were not enough in such situations.

'Firearms incidents are increasing,' he went on. 'In the past, armed professional criminals would normally be the culprit. Increasingly now, it is the young hooligan going into the corner shop, bank or building society. It is the drug-dealer seeking to protect territory or turf. There is a wildness about the scene, more sophisticated weapons. We are seeing Kalashnikovs, Armalites, Uzis, on a fairly regular basis.'

In Merseyside, more than 40 automatic weapons had been seized in the last nine months. 'At the moment we react to events. But if the situation in certain parts of the country were to continue to deteriorate, that might turn into regular routine patrolling by armed officers.'

Delegates later heard several recommendations by the firearms committee aimed at making arms more available to police. The proposals will go to the Acpo council where they are expected to become police policy. They include changes in procedures to allow all ARV officers to wear handguns openly, although permission would still be needed to draw the weapons. They also want officers in charge of a police station, even if it is someone in the lower ranks of inspector or sergeant, to have the authority to arm officers or deploy firearms when an emergency firearms incident happens.

These developments follow changes in the Metropolitan Police, announced in May, where ARV officers are allowed to wear their Smith & Wesson .38 handguns openly when called out to most types of incident. Police in the armed response vehicles no longer need the permission of a high-ranking officer before removing guns from a metal box in their cars.

These measures are expected to spread to other forces around the country, a move that civil rights groups fear will result in innocent people being shot.

Sport
FootballGerman sparks three goals in four minutes at favourite No 10 role
News
peopleFrankie Boyle responds to referendum result in characteristically offensive style
Sport
Lewis Hamilton will start the Singapore Grand Prix from pole, with Nico Rosberg second and Daniel Ricciardo third
F1... for floodlit Singapore Grand Prix
Arts and Entertainment
'New Tricks' star Dennis Waterman is departing from the show after he completes filming on two more episodes
tvHe is only remaining member of original cast
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Arts and Entertainment
tvHighs and lows of the cast's careers since 2004
New Articles
i100... she's just started school
News
news
New Articles
i100
Life and Style
Couples have been having sex less in 2014, according to a new survey
life
Arts and Entertainment
musicBiographer Hunter Davies has collected nearly a hundred original manuscripts
Sport
football
New Articles
i100... despite rising prices
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Qualified Primary Teaching Assistant

£64 - £73 per day + Competitive rates based on experience : Randstad Education...

Primary KS2 NQTs required in Lambeth

£117 - £157 per day + Competitive London rates: Randstad Education Group: * Pr...

Primary NQTs required in Lambeth

£117 - £157 per day + Competitive London rates: Randstad Education Group: * Pr...

Primary NQTs required in Lambeth

£117 - £157 per day + Competitive London rates: Randstad Education Group: * Pr...

Day In a Page

Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam