THE STANDARD - Armed police will no longer be automatically suspended for firing their guns, Home Secretary Amber Rudd has announced.
She told MPs that firearms officers would only be suspended from duty in “exceptional circumstances” - and emphasised there was no rule preventing them from shooting first.
Her announcement came after a Tory MP claimed the current rules were “not fit for purpose” as many officers feared they would spend years under investigation just for using their guns.
Michael Fabricant, MP for Lichfield, said: “I'm quite concerned by the fact that a number of police officers, both here at the Palace of Westminster and in Downing Street, that they as armed police officers don't feel that they are getting the freedom to act that they should have, because of the rules of engagement.
"Can these be changed to be fit for purpose?"
Speaking during Home Office questions, Ms Rudd replied: "I recognise that this is a difficult issue sometimes, which is why we have been reviewing the support we provide our firearms officers so that they can carry out their crucial duties without fear, while ensuring there is necessary scrutiny.
"I know he had specific concerns about automatic suspension and firing first, and I can confirm that only in exceptional circumstances would somebody be suspended for using their gun, and there is no rule prohibiting officers from shooting first.
"Their decision is and must be based on an assessment of threat to life, including their own."
Met Police Federation branch chairman Ken Marsh has welcomed the Home Secretary’s announcement.
He told the Sun: "What police officer would put themselves in the line of fire with the automatic prospect of suspension and risk of criminal investigation when they could opt for an easier life?
"Firearms officers need more recognition and support around the difficult role they perform.