Scotland Yard’s firearms command has been plunged into crisis after dozens of armed officers handed in their weapons following the decision to charge one of their colleagues with murder.
Highly trained officers working for SCO19 – the specialist firearms unit – told their bosses they were no longer willing to carry guns the day after a Met officer appeared in court charged with murdering Chris Kaba, an unarmed black man who was shot dead in south London last September.
The Met has more that 3,000 firearms officers across a number of units, but the loss of so many at once has led to concern over the ability of the force to meet its duties and keep the public safe.
One source said: “These officers are highly trained professionals who take their role and responsibilities extremely seriously, but they are simply no longer willing to take the risk of going to work with all the dangers that represents and also run the risk of being charged with murder.
“Lots of them have simply had enough and are saying it is just not worth it any more.”
On Thursday an armed officer, who has only been identified as NX121, appeared at Westminster Magistrates’ Court and also the Old Bailey charged with murdering Mr Kaba on September 5 last year.
He was given conditional bail and is expected to stand trial next year.
Just hours after he appeared in court, Sir Mark Rowley, the Met Commissioner held a meeting with around 70 firearms officers concerned about the development.
Following the meeting Sir Mark issued a statement in which he said: “They were understandably anxious as they consider how others may assess their split second decisions years after the event, with the luxury of as much time as they want to do this, and the effect this can have on them and their families.
“As I continue my work today, our firearms officers are on patrol deployed on proactive crime and counter terrorism operations as they are every day.
“They are not only prepared to confront the armed and dangerous to protect London’s communities but they do so recognising the uniquely intense and lengthy personal accountability they will face for their split-second operational decisions.
“Indeed, I understand why many of them are reflecting on the potential price of such weighty responsibilities. Bravery comes in many forms.
“When officers have the levels of uncertainty and worry I saw in my colleagues today, simply going in and doing their jobs not knowing what incidents are ahead of them is courageous.”
A Met spokesman denied that the development was having an impact on the force’s ability to carry out its protective duties and keep Londoners safe.
(Source: The Telegraph)