Animals the only targets of firearms officers from Suffolk Constabulary between 2010 and 2014

Armed police from Suffolk Constabulary.

Armed police from Suffolk Constabulary. - Credit: Archant

Firearms officers in Suffolk only used their weapons to shoot animals over a four-year period, new figures reveal.

Between 2010 and 2014, armed police from Suffolk Constabulary were sent to 34 incidents where they needed to use their guns - all of which related to “animal destruction”.

Superintendent Jon Dodman, head of specialist operations for Suffolk and Norfolk, said police were sometimes required to kill suffering deer that had been hit by vehicles if a vet or a licensed slaughterer was not available.

Armed officers patrol the county 24-hours a day seven days a week, but Supt Dodman said police would carefully assess the risk of a situation before taking forceful action.

“Firearms officers have a number of options available to diffuse high risk situations and public safety will always be a priority,” he added.

“On each occasion the threat and risk will be carefully assessed beforehand, and any use of force – be it firearm or a less lethal option - will only be deployed if, following assessment, it is determined to be the most appropriate solution in order to resolve the situation.”

Tasers were also issued to firearms officers in Suffolk in 2005 as part of the national roll out.

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According to data released by Suffolk Constabulary, police used their weapons twice in 2010, three times in 2012, 11 times in 2013 and 16 times in 2014.