Police to double firearms unit
Northumbria Police will be increasing the number of firearms officers by more than 50 per cent to provide reassurance across the force area and give it the capability of responding quickly if needed.
Last year the Home Office said they would be giving a chosen number of UK police forces more than £140 million to increase their firearms capability.
The investment will help ensure the biggest cities in the country are can respond quickly to any threat and provide reassurance to its residents.
Northumbria Police has already been proactive in having a highly visible armed presence at public events including the Sunderland Air Show, Tall Ships and Great North Run.
Now the force has confirmed they will be increasing the number of Authorised Firearms Officers (AFOs) by 50 per cent so they can maintain that visible presence around the force.
Chief Inspector Simon Hall, head of the Firearms Support Unit (FSU), said: “There is no specific intelligence to say that this region is going to be a target for any sort of terrorist activity, but we have the capability to respond quickly if we ever needed to.
“We are one of nine forces across the UK who have been provided with government funding to increase the number of our firearms officers and a 50 per cent increase is a significant uplift.
“Our firearms officers have been very visible at events across the region this summer and they have been very well received by the public at places like the Sunderland Air Show, Tall Ships and the Great North Run.
“That policy is something that will continue and this uplift will ensure we have the officers available to fulfil that demand and help our communities living and working in the North East feel safe.”
Those joining the specially trained Firearms Support Unit (FSU) will be recruited internally from area commands and departments across the force as well as from other forces across the country.
An intensive training course is already well underway and the first group of new AFOs joined the existing team earlier this month. New recruits have to complete three years of service in the force before they can apply to become an AFO.
Chief Inspector Hall, who has been part of the FSU for more than 10 years, added: “Our AFOs do not get paid any extra for being part of this unit. They do it voluntarily because they want to protect the people of Northumbria.
“Many of them are mothers and fathers and they make a commitment to put themselves in the most dangerous situations a police officer will have to face in their career just to ensure they can keep the public safe.
“I am immensely proud of every single member of my team and I’m proud to say that they are among the most talented firearms officers in the entire country.”
To find out more about the National Armed Uplift Programme (NAUP) visit the National Police Chiefs Council website by following the link: http://news.npcc.police.uk/releases/extra-armed-police-to-deal-with-terrorist-threat