Suffolk: Police firearms usage revealed

FIREARMS were authorised in more than 2,000 police operations across the county in the last ten years, official figures have revealed.

According to figures released by the Home Office, firearms were authorised 2,014 times in police operations in Suffolk between 2002 and 2011.

The latest figures from April 1, 2010, to March 31, 2011, show firearms were authorised in 227 operations – a rise of just two incidents from the previous year – placing Suffolk 22nd out of 43 areas across England and Wales – below Norfolk, Essex and Cambridgeshire.

Across the country, police only discharged a conventional firearm in three incidents in the 2010/11 period, down from six the previous year. However, the figures do not reflect discharges for animal destruction or during police training.

A spokesperson for Suffolk police said firearm deployment would only be authorised if “there was a reason to suppose officers may have to protect themselves or others from a person who is in possession of, or has immediate access to, a firearm or other potential lethal weapon, or is otherwise so dangerous that deployment of armed officers is appropriate.”

The spokesperson said firearms may also be authorised “in an operational contingency in a specific operation, or for the destruction of animals which are dangerous or are suffering unnecessarily.”