David Cameron announces hundreds more armed police to combat terror threat


Hundreds more armed police officers will be stationed across the country poised to deal with a Paris-style terror attack, the Prime Minister has announced.

The "significant" increase in counter-terror squads includes 400 more armed police ready to be deployed to cities outside London around the clock, in addition to a nationwide fleet of extra armed response vehicles.

The move comes after a Government review of the capacity and capability of Britain's police forces to act in the event of "complex" attacks, similar to that on Charlie Hebdo or the simultaneous strikes launched in Paris in November.

David Cameron made the announcement as he attended a summit in Washington, where world leaders are discussing plans to protect nuclear facilities.

He said: "Our police and intelligence agencies work round the clock to keep us safe and it is absolutely vital that we support them with the right resources and kit.

"After the terrorist attacks in France last year, we decided to look at whether there was more we could do to protect people from the type of terrorist threat we now face.

"That's why we are increasing the number of specially trained armed officers up and down the country to make sure the police have greater capability to respond swiftly and effectively should they need to do so."

No 10 said the beefed-up network of armed police units is intended to complement military contingency plans already in place to deploy up to 10,000 troops in the event of a terror attack.

Soldiers would be drafted in to assist with the broader security response and relieve armed police guards who can in turn respond to incidents.

The recruitment drive aims to have 1,000 more armed police in place across England and Wales by spring 2018, with 400 ready to be deployed to cities including Manchester and Birmingham. It includes plans to have 600 extra armed police officers in London which were announced in January.

An additional 40 armed response vehicles and teams are due to be "up and running" within the next 12 months, bringing the total number across the country to 150. London will see its fleet doubled.

The vehicles are adapted so the armed officers can be deployed along with their specialist kit to incidents at speed.

Funding for the increase will come from the £143 million set aside in the Strategic Security and Defence Review to increase armed response capability and capacity.

Simon Chesterman, the National Police Chiefs' Council lead for Armed Policing, said: "This additional uplift will ensure we are in an even stronger position to respond quickly and effectively to protect the public."