London: Scotland Yard has stepped up armed patrols including by officers on their rest days across London in the wake of the Paris attacks last week that killed over 120 people. Officers in armed response vehicles in the British capital will be asked to work on their rest days as London police chiefs fear they would have to deploy more firearms officers more quickly than previously planned to the scene of an attack like that at the Bataclan concert hall in the French capital on Friday, the ‘Guardian’ reported.
“The incident in Paris on Friday night demonstrated the terrorists’ ability to bring tactics seen previously in theatres of war to the streets of Europe.
“We are now closely examining the incident with a view to assessing its impact upon armed policing,” said Simon Chesterman, the national lead for firearms policing. Metropolitan Police commissioner, Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe, has also ordered an increase in patrols of armed-response vehicles (ARVs).
At any time of day, a third more officials will be on patrol than before the Paris attack, the newspaper said. He said: “We’re working on plans now so that in the short period of time we’ve got an extra third on top of the core provision.
“The armed-response vehicle element we’re increasing by a third straight away. But then the overall pool I want to increase by a third and also at any one time, on duty, probably double. “I think what Paris showed us, with so many attackers with so many scenes, moving around at speed… we need to have a mobile reserve.”
In London, 2,000 out of 32,000 officers are authorised to carry firearms, but only a fraction of these are on duty at any one time. In the event of an attack, ARVs would be first to a scene, with other specialist firearms officers dispatched from their base.
The Met has created an SAS-style unit of armed officers to counter the threat of a terrorist gun attack in Britain. The 130 counter-terrorism specialist firearms officers have trained with the army’s special forces to respond to assaults such as in Mumbai in 2008 and the 2013 Westgate shopping mall attack in Nairobi, which developed into a siege. Finally, the army could be called in, but it would take time for them to reach the scene.