'Police leaders have discussed frontline constables carrying guns amid concerns it would take too long for fully trained armed officers to reach an attack in rural areas, a police chief has said.
Simon Chesterman, the national lead for armed policing, said the routine arming of regular officers remained an option given an elevated terror threat to Britain that security officials believe is here to stay, with 12 terrorist murder plots known about in the last year.
The Guardian has seen details of the plans presented to police chiefs that would see beat officers being given two weeks of training.
Police chiefs want to keep the tradition that just a fraction of officers are armed, and only after being highly trained. But the heightened terror threat, the rising availability of firearms and their increased use have led to a focus on how each force would respond.
A paper written by Chesterman for a meeting of police chiefs to discuss routine arming said: “Depending upon the level of training required, an officer would require approximately two weeks initial training to deploy with a handgun. This would include weapons handling and retention together with some basic tactics. Officers would require approximately two days per annum refresher training and to perform qualification shoots.
“Aside from the costs associated with abstractions for training, there would be significant implications and costs associated with supporting infrastructure such as access to suitable ranges and firearms instructors. Ranges and instructors are already significantly stretched by the Uplift Programme. The cost of a handgun is £500.”
The discussion paper was written for a police chiefs meeting last July and came after Britain suffered a string of deadly terror attacks in London and Manchester. It also said: “Routinely armed response officers would be trained to intervene in extremis before the specialist firearms response gets there.”'
Read more: UK police chiefs discuss officers routinely carrying guns
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