Armed police called to almost 250 incidents in 12 months, figures reveal

PUBLISHED: 07:30 17 August 2020 | UPDATED: 09:29 17 August 2020

Armed police attended 234 incidents in Suffolk during the year ending March 2020  Picture: ARCHANT

Armed police attended 234 incidents in Suffolk during the year ending March 2020 Picture: ARCHANT

Armed police were deployed to almost 250 incidents across Suffolk last year, according to new figures.

The constabulary said the number of operations was relatively small compared to other forces.

Nationwide, guns were fired only five times at 19,372 incidents in the year ending March.

In Suffolk, armed police attended 234 a small rise from 224, but more than the 192 attended in neighbouring Norfolk.

The specialist operations chief for both constabularies said the joint armed team were deployed based on the location of the nearest armed response vehicle – regardless of whether an incident takes place across the border.

Superintendent Matt Rose said officers and commanders were trained to the same national standards as every other force.

National criteria for deploying armed units includes responding to incidents where officers may have to protect themselves or others from someone with, or with immediate access to a firearm or other potentially lethal weapon, or otherwise so dangerous that deployment is appropriate.

Other examples include contingency in a specific operation based on threat assessment, or for the destruction of animals deemed dangerous or are suffering unnecessarily.

Armed response vehicles (ARVs), which generally attend spontaneous incidents while other resources are used in planned operations like VIP protection or search warrants – were used 206 times last year.

Supt Rose said there was an ongoing project to review armed officer shift patterns to improve ARV availability further.

He said a 4% reduction in deployment across the country was mostly driven by the two largest forces – with about half of regions seeing an increase.

Although figures show Suffolk has 62 armed officers compared to Norfolk’s 151, Supt Rose said the county was well served by a close collaboration with its neighbour, and that demand based resources should not be viewed in isolation.

Training is carried out jointly with regional forces, while recent investment in personal asset tracking, and collaboration on uniform and equipment, means officers have the capability to work across the region to support each other, Supt Rose added.

Suffolk was not among forces to receive funds as part of a £143m drive to recruit 1,500 extra firearms officers in 2016.

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