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Firearms officers 'absolutely expect to be held to account' says Rowley

The Met Commissioner has this morning said that firearms coverage remains “significantly less than normal” across London.

Sir Mark Rowley has said firearms officers “fully welcome” accountability and recognise that it’s critical for trust in policing from families and communities.

The Commissioner gave an update on the firearms situation to the newly formed London Policing Board.

He told panel members that officers are “extremely anxious”.

“It’s important to put this in context,” he said.

“A lot of this is driven by families, many of them are under pressure from their partners, wives, husbands, parents, children who are saying ‘I’m worried about what you might go through based on your job’.

“The core of this issue is not process, the core is a real personal anxiety and that influence and that is what has caused the challenges.”

He has said the number of firearms officers is “strengthening” but that it remains “significantly less than normal” and other forces are helping out to fill the gaps.

In London there are around 200 shootings a year, eight or nine of which turn into homicides.

Sir Mark added that tactics are working well in creating reductions and he expects the numbers to be down by a quarter or a third this year.

Firearms officers in the Met run around 83 operations per week, generating 30 arrests and cease 10 firearms a week and 13 other weapons.

“All of that adds together to about 4,000 deployments a year,” the Commissioner told the newly formed London Policing Board at their first meeting. 

“And they fire shots once or twice in those 4,000 deployments.”

This morning, he said the issue is not simply about firearms but wider police powers including use of force and pursuits.

“Everyone needs confidence in the system [of accountability] which is which is speedy, professional and operates absolutely without fear or favour and searches for the truth.

“We must be held to account for use of force.

“My role is to set all the organisation up to succeed.

“I need to be equally vigorous about trying to ensure they can do their job [...] of protecting London. I need to be as vigorous about that as we are about dealing with the hundreds who shouldn’t be in the organisation.”

Sir Mark’s comments came after policing minister Chris Philp said there may be an argument for firearms officers getting paid more for carrying a gun.

He told LBC: “Chief constables deal with operational measures like who gets trained and who gets given a firearm ticket, but they do put themselves in extraordinary danger.”

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