Duty officer must be able to track outside firearms officers at major incidents, says review
Chiefs agree that introducing capability is ‘crucial’ and say it is being worked on
A national system for monitoring the whereabouts of firearms officers from outside forces at major incidents will be introduced, chiefs say.
It follows concerns about public safety raised by a review into the Manchester Arena bombing.
Armed response vehicles deployed to the city to help Greater Manchester Police with last May’s attack were not trackable on local force computer systems.
The same issue was raised in a review into the police response to the 2010 Cumbria shootings when 12 people were murdered and 11 injured by a lone gunman.
The NPCC say addressing the gap is “crucial” and is being worked on by several teams.
Lord Kerslake's review into the response in Manchester said: “Whilst GMP operates an automatic resource location system for its personnel and assets, neighbouring police forces do not use the same IT systems, so their personnel and assets could not be tracked on the GMP system.”
It acknowledged that there was no detriment to the operation due to this but said there are potential for risks to public safety.
Lord Kerslake added: “Given that, at least initially, some of the additional incidents on the night of the attack appeared to bear the hallmarks of an escalating and distributed terrorist attack, there was a pressing need to be able to deploy armed assets from outside GMP to these incidents.
“In these instances, it is the panel’s opinion that the force duty officer’s inability to monitor the location of responding armed response vehicles and other armed personnel on a national system could easily have introduced avoidable risks to public and responder safety (e.g. because the force duty officer did not know which was the closest asset to deploy).”
Eight years on from the Cumbria shootings, he said the issue is a national one which needs to be addressed.
An NPCC spokesman said: “It is crucial that our force duty officers have the ability to track the whereabouts of armed response vehicles deployed under mutual aid from other forces, to ensure the fastest and most effective response to any incident or emergency.
“A number of NPCC portfolios and specialist working groups have been striving to identify long term solutions to this issue for some time, and excellent progress is being made.
“But as with any national IT or infrastructure project, it will take time to identify and implement systems which work for all of our forces"