Kent police to deploy extra firearms officers in response to ‘unprecedented’ security threat
PUBLISHED: 06:00 19 September 2016 | UPDATED: 14:23 19 September 2016
The Home Office has told police forces in England and Wales to boost the number of armed officers
Extra firearms officers are to be deployed on the streets of Kent as a result of an ‘unprecedented’ threat to the security of the public, it has been announced.
Patrols by armed units and officers with tasers will be stepped up at key locations - including Bluewater, Canterbury and Dover - in response to recent international terrorist incidents and heightened national threat levels.
The order to increase the number of firearms officers has come directly from the Home Office.
Deputy Chief Constable of Kent Police Paul Brandon said the new firearms officers would come from within the force.
“We are going to be using the current resources and supplementing them with overtime as we increase footfall,” he explained.
“We are recruiting additional firearms officers, which will increase footfall and deployment.
“It is important to realise we have to take from within people who want to become a firearms officer.
“We will have 20 or so on top of what we have already got.”
DCC Brandon named Dover, Canterbury and Bluewater Shopping Centre as among the areas that would see extra firearms officers.
He admitted that some people may feel nervous at the sight of armed police, but sought to reassure the public that the action was justified.
“I am part of the old school and this threat is unprecedented,” he said. There is a duty to protect the public, and I am of the view that the step we are taking is the right thing to do.
“Officers are put through a very tough assessment process - the course is not for everyone.
“Nationally, the work of the security services means a lot of the threats have been mitigated. There is a lot of good work that goes unseen.
“It is an unprecedented threat, and the public expect us to respond to that.”
Matthew Scott, Kent’s police and crime commissioner, added: “I have supported the existing plan to use money raised by the council tax precept this year to increase the force’s firearms capability and I hope these visible patrols will provide additional reassurance to the public.
“In the event of any serious incident, it is important that Kent Police has the resources it needs - including firearms officers - to provide a suitable response.
“The security of the people of Kent is my priority.”