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Armed Officers Attending non-firearms incidents @MikePannet responds

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If you opened The Telegraph or The Times on 7 February, or the Daily Mail and Independent on 8 Feb, you may have felt a fleeting sense of déjà-vu. For no apparent reason an article from last year about ‘routine’ armed police attending non firearms related incidents, has been regurgitated in the Times by journalist Fiona Hamilton and Camilla Turner in the Telegraph. They have such startling similarities; you’d hope they didn’t sit next to each other during their university exams.

Anyway we say regurgitated because if you actually know your stuff, there’s no real reason for this ‘old story’ to have popped up again in The Times/Telegraph via Fiona and Camilla, unless it’s a stock police story of course, for a slow news day, editorial direction or just lazy reporting.

This debate was initiated in Scotland last August and overseen by the SPA and it culminated in October 2014 with HMICS publishing a ‘Review of Standing Firearms Authority for Armed Response Crews within Scotland’.

As was with the Scottish legacy forces ‘Standing Authorities’ are reviewed regularly by English and Welsh forces under their FSTRA- Firearms Strategic Threat and Risk Assessments. They take into account the various threats and risks, as you’d expect from the title, plus a whole raft of operational reasons as to why it’s reasonable for police officers with car keys to a mobile armoury, to actually have their sidearm’s handy, instead of locked away in a steel box inside the aforementioned mobile armoury.

The Times and Telegraph both spookily comment on the ‘Americanisation’ of our traditional way of policing, and I’m sorry, but that’s just plain daft. In perspective there are a mere handful of armed response crews out and about on patrol in the UK, and this bears absolutely no resemblance whatsoever to any US policing model. The population of England and Wales is nearly 58million and we’ve got just over 3000 armed officers, of which only fraction are actually out on patrol on any given shift crewing ARV’s going to routine calls.

Last summer in Scotland where the debate began, some politicians and a newspaper took to conflating the issue that a fraction of their 275 armed officers were supporting ‘routine’ policing.

It was conflated by a frankly ridiculous line that there were ‘growing concerns’ that these were ‘ordinary’ police and were becoming routinely armed by stealth without public knowledge, consultation or consent. This shocking revelation was supported by various photos of armed officers in public, assisting unarmed colleagues with ‘routine’ policing. Thankfully this was rebutted by Scottish Justice Minister Kenny MacAskill who had astutely realised that the whole issue was a political football being capitalised upon and manipulated by some for their own ends.

A pragmatic and ‘defiant’ response by Scotland’s’ Chief Constable Steve House tried to help common sense prevail. However in a hollow victory for the detractors and hysterics the review of the ‘Standing Authority’ did indeed bring in some changes, and bizarrely enough as far as public safety is concerned the amendments are for the worse.

The review, as you might expect for common sense reasons, allowed the armed officers to actually go out on patrol instead of making them sit at the police station waiting for a call out.
However the hollowness of the victory is that although those same police officers are ‘allowed’ out they’re restricted to attending only at ‘life or death’ calls and where their firearms are required.

The reality of this is that Scotland is rather a big place, so now picture yourself awakened at 3am by the noise of intruders downstairs, pick up the phone and dial 999 – if you live in a rural area especially you’d be forgiven for feeling rather vulnerable, but don’t worry the police are on their way, unfortunately they’re about 25 miles away but will try and get there as fast as they can. Coincidentally the Armed Response Vehicle for your area, is a lot closer and double crewed in a high performance car, but unfortunately now they not allowed come to your aid because your burglary is not a life or death firearms incident – cue the slow handclap for the Scottish politicians. Anyway the next day (if you’re okay) you can write to your MSP and thank them for being concerned (on your behalf) that ‘attending routine incidents has a negative impact on community relations and safety’.

Meanwhile in England and Wales you will continue to see ARV crews at routine incidents, whether they’re first on the scene at a serious traffic collision or the first cops through the door when you’re being punched into unconsciousness by a violent partner. Armed Police attending to calls simply as police officers isn’t recorded because it’s irrelevant; it’s not a firearms deployment so it measures nothing. (It won’t show in a FOI request) In fact you’ll see it a lot more now because there are 17,000 less police officers available to go to those ‘routine calls’ and armed officers are mucking in just to help make things work, and that’s the real cause for concern in this whole silly contrived story.

Something that never seems to get mentioned in the media, is that the notice boards in Firearms Units up and down the country humbly displaying hundreds of letters of thanks and cards from victims and families – and guess what, they have absolutely nothing to do with those officers being armed. ARV crews have advanced life saving equipment and pre-hospital trauma skills which enable them to treat serious injuries and gunshot wounds, and those letters and cards are from families whose loved ones have been treated, and on many occasions saved by ARV officers. When police officers are desperately attempting resuscitation at a collapse in the high street, absolutely no one notices or even cares that that they’re wearing sidearms.

So if you’re worried about ‘Americanisation’ or anxious that at your time of need, it might be an ARV coming to your aid – get writing to the Times, Telegraph and others or your MP, oh and don’t forget next time you’re stood at the check-in desk and you see the airport police strolling through the Terminal chatting, try to control your hysteria in case you fall over in your flip flops.

The 4Policing Team have former Strategic and Tactical Firearms Commanders and Tactical Advisors on hand, so instead of making up sources, quotes or using old ones from other articles we’d be happy to assist the media with questions and our expertise.

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Melton Mowbray poppy day parade could be cancelled due to police cuts

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One of the biggest Remembrance Sunday Parades faces being cancelled due to police cuts imposed by the Government.

Leicestershire Police have confirmed they do not have the staffing levels to be able to support the parade within Melton Mowbray happening next month.

If the parade is to go ahead as planned the Royal British Legion will be forced to pay for a private firm to marshal the route on November 12th.

Melton Mowbray is very much an active military town with the prospect of the cancellation causing anger amongst the locals

Jock Bryson aged 82 who organises parade has spoken about his devastation and shock saying ‘It’s so important to Melton that we keep holding the parade, and the atmosphere is so phenomenal with the serving and ex-serving people marching through town.’

The Melton Mowbray community are now holding raffles and bake sales in an attempt to raise money to pay for private security to attend the march.

Sadly cuts to policing have had a huge impact on Leicestershire Police there is now 500 fewer officers within the force that there was 8 years ago, simply there are not enough cops.

Leicestershire Police said that there are around 500 fewer officers in the county than there were eight years ago.

Ch Sup Andy Lee said: ‘As a force we are keen to pay our respects and remember the fallen, and at some of the larger parades there will be a visible police presence to engage with the community and maintain public safety. ‘In order to support these Remembrance Day events we need to carefully manage our resources to ensure business-as-usual continues, and that our level of service across the whole county is maintained. ‘In previous years, officers in attendance at parades have been involved in assisting with road closures and traffic management along parade routes due to the lack of formal traffic management arrangements.

‘However, this had an impact on our day-to-day operations and demands. With budget cuts and reductions in officer numbers, we have to ensure officers are deployed where the operational risk is greatest and that there is a sufficient number of officers on duty to be able to respond to any incident.

‘This is not something that we can sustain alongside making sure we are able to respond to incidents anywhere in the county.’ Jim Rawlinson, chairman of the county’s Royal British Legion, said they could still put on a parade – but it would be trimmed down. ‘It’s a national problem, but it’s just caused us to think differently about things,’ he said ‘The parades will all go on, but people will have to marshal them themselves.’

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ARRESTED: Hostages taken by armed man at Nuneaton Bowling Alley

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Armed Police and specially trained negotiators have successfully ended a hostage situation that lasted almost four hours.

Armed Officers and Ambulance Crews responded to the major incident at the MFA Bowling Alley in Nuneaton following a vast amount of calls reporting a man with a sawn-off shotgun.

The man is believed to have taken two hostages who were both staff members within the bowling alley.

Mehdi Afshar Chief Executive of MFA Bowl confirmed that two members of his staff were being held, hostage.

It is Mehdi believe that the suspect gunman is known to one of his staff members and the relationship is either an ex-husband or boyfriend.

No customers or other staff members were hurt in the incident and were allowed to freely leave, while the suspect told many others to get the F**k out of here while screaming at his hostages it is Game Over.

 

The incident began just after 3pm on Sunday 22nd October when many families and children fled the scene after spotting the gunman.

Those that did not escape the scene immediately were told to leave by the gunman.  Police quickly ruled out the incident as being terror-related.

Credit: PoliceHour

The full area is on lockdown with all roads in and out of the area have been blocked and no one is allowed to leave the Nearby Odeon Cinema located next door to the bowling alley or a nearby soft play centre.

The Air Ambulance has landed near the bowling alley and has since left the location.

Video footage shows a number of armed police officers in a car park at the scene.

 

Warwickshire Police confirmed that they were dealing with an “ongoing incident” however while the incident was ongoing they did not confirm the nature of the incident.

Once the incident had concluded police confirmed that the man had been arrested and two hostages had been released uninjured.

Moments before the incident ended flash bangs were seen and heard before armed officers moved in and very quickly the suspect was arrested before being placed in the back of an ambulance which left the scene on blue lights and under a police escort.

A Spokesperson for Warwickshire Police confirmed the suspect had now been arrested and the situation was over.

“Specialist firearms officers and police negotiators, along with fire, ambulance and police air services, attended the location at the bowling alley in St David’s Way, Bermuda Park. A man has been arrested and is in police custody.

“Members of public at the bowling alley and neighbouring properties were evacuated to safety and nobody was injured during the incident.

“Warwickshire Police Chief Superintendent Alex Franklin-Smith said: “We would like to thank local people for their patience and cooperation while officers dealt with this incident. We are pleased that we were able to bring this incident to a peaceful resolution and that there were no injuries. I would like to reassure the Nuneaton community that the incident is unconnected to any terrorist activity.”

 

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Urgent Warning over exploding paw patrol soap after boy three in intensive care bath bomb exploded

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Three-year-old boy is currently in a critical condition after a canister of Paw Patrol bath foam exploded while he was having a bath

The product has not been recalled, however, we would urge all parents to think twice when thinking about using this product.

The little tot is currently being cared for at Belfast’s Royal Hospital for Sick Children last night.

The little boy has burns to the outside and inside of his body, it is believed he was in the bath with his Paw Patrol Foam soap and it suddenly exploded.

The boy who has not been named was rushed to hospital on blue lights in a critical condition.

A spokesman for the Belfast Trust said the little boy is “in the children’s intensive care unit and his condition is critical”.

Nickelodeon confirmed that they had heard about the incident and that they were investigating the matter.

Confirming “We are terribly sorry to hear about this dreadful incident and we are gathering more information about the licensed product involved.”

Paw Patrol is an animated TV programme that is broadcast on Nickelodeon and is popular with kids and features six rescue dogs.

But they did not say whether or not the product would be withdrawn from sale.

You can buy the bath foam at a range of high street shops.

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