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Armed police officers on rise in Sussex

The number of armed police officers on the streets is on the rise.

There are now 163 officers in Sussex trained to use firearms compared with 148 the year to March 2022.

But the number of incidents requiring the specially trained officers has reduced. They were called to 524 operations in the year to March 2023, down from 575 the previous year.

This, however, is in contrast to the overall picture in England and Wales where there were 18,395 firearms operations in the year ending March 23 – a slight increase on the previous year when there were 18,257.

It has led to calls from a human rights organisation for the use of guns to be “rolled back”.

Emmanuelle Andrews, policy and campaigns manager at Liberty, said the UK was heading “in the wrong direction” on dangerous policing.

“Instead of increasing the use of guns and handing the police new powers to use different weapons, we need to see use rolled back,” she said.

“The government should invest in solutions our communities really need like funding for youth services, better access to mental health help and action on poverty so that we get to the root cause of the social issues policing so often responds to.”

Since March 2022, there have been ten incidents of police intentionally discharging their guns, six more than in the previous period.

Chief Constable Simon Chesterman, the National Police Chiefs’ Council lead for armed policing, said he was proud of the figures.

“A mark of the quality of training that armed officers receive is how infrequently they have to use their weapons,” he said.

“It is a testament to the professionalism of our armed officers that only 0.05 per cent of armed deployments end with a firearm actually being discharged.”

A spokesman for the Home Office said it was hard to make direct comparisons with rates during the pandemic but the number of incidents where firearms were intentionally discharged “remains very low”.

He said: “The use of firearms by the police should always be a last resort, considered only where there is a serious risk to public or police safety.

“Deadly force continues to be used very rarely by police in this country. This is testament to the training, skill and judgement of firearms officers and commanders.”

(Source: The Argus)

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