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Taking guns from serving Northern Ireland police officers crazy: ex-cop with a weapon but no training

By Laura Abernethy

Published 03/05/2016

A retired police officer has hit out at a decision to remove firearms from some cops as he said he's had a personal protection weapon for 16 years since quitting and has had no training in that time
A retired police officer has hit out at a decision to remove firearms from some cops as he said he's had a personal protection weapon for 16 years since quitting and has had no training in that time

A retired police officer has hit out at a decision to remove firearms from some cops as he said he's had a personal protection weapon for 16 years since quitting and has had no training in that time.

The Belfast Telegraph revealed yesterday that hundreds of officers face having their weapons withdrawn because their training has lapsed and there are fears if an officer accidentally injured him or herself with a weapon, the PSNI could be sued.

The move is despite the dissident terror threat being officially classed as severe.

The officer received the weapon in 2000 when he left the force. He said: "I found the news item about withdrawing firearms from PSNI officers who have missed training unbelievable.

"Like other RUC/PSNI officers who have retired, I have a personal protection weapon on licence since 2000. I have never fired this weapon in 16 years and I never took any training in its use.

"It seems a ridiculous decision to remove a firearm from a serving officer who has missed training, with hundreds of retired members of the security forces in possession of personal weapons and, like me, never trained in the weapon.

"Something must be done to enable serving officers to process their weapon for their protection while off duty."

There is concern among those left without a personal protection firearm. A serving PSNI officer said: "The firearms are being removed with no immediate training for the officers in question. The officers aren't being trained through no fault of their own.

"Some of them might have restrictions, for example, on their duties - injuries and so on - and therefore aren't able to attend firearms training.

"What it comes down to is a balance for police management about where they see the risk factor as being greatest. Someone hurting themselves because they haven't been trained, and therefore suing the police service, or someone going out this evening, being attacked and not being able to defend themselves.

"They see the former as being the higher risk factor, because obviously it's a corporate risk."

Deputy Chief Constable Drew Harris confirmed the PSNI was aware of officers whose training had lapsed.

He said: "Officers are obliged to maintain their competence and to continue to demonstrate proficiency and safety in use of the service pistol through refresher training. Where an officer's training has lapsed, their continued retention of a service pistol is considered by a senior officer."

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