Number of armed police officers in Bedfordshire to increase by a half

Armed police at Brighton station (Photograph: Eddie Mitchell)
Armed police at Brighton station (Photograph: Eddie Mitchell)

The number of firearms officers available to provide armed capacity and capability across Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire and Hertfordshire has increased by 50 per cent.

In July 2016 the Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire, and Hertfordshire Joint Protective Services (BCH JPS) set about increasing the number of authorised firearms officers (AFOs) in order to help protect the public and respond quickly to serious threats.

The officers were selected from those already working within the JPS unit, and although the officers will not carry weapons on a routine basis, they are ready to be called upon should they be needed to respond swiftly in exceptional cases such as when life is at risk.

The increase is not in relation to any specific intelligence with regards to any imminent terror attack, and is not as a result of the recent terror attacks. The uplift came about following a direction to all forces from the Home Office last year.

Paul Fullwood, assistant chief constable said: “The tragic incidents in Manchester and London show us how important it is that we have the appropriate number of firearms trained officers.

“Last year we carried out a review of the tri-force armed policing unit and found that the number of firearms officers across the three forces were sufficient to meet our day-to-day demand, but we felt it would be beneficial to increase the number of officers who are firearms trained in order to provide the best possible levels of protection and security across the three counties.

“Since then we have carried out a series of intensive training courses to ensure we have the very best calibre of people in this high pressured role and from today there are now an additional 50 per cent firearms trained officers available in the tri-force area.

“The terrible and tragic terror attacks in Manchester and London are a timely reminder of just why this increase is needed, although I’d like to stress that this increase has been planned for several months and is not in relation to any specific intelligence.

“When others run away from danger, our brave AFOs run towards the threat, as has been seen this weekend. They’re often faced with difficult and challenging decisions and as such we are hugely appreciative of their efforts in keeping the wider public safe, and I am grateful to our officers who have volunteered to be part of this uplift.”