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Police chiefs consider rise in armed officer numbers to tackle terror threat

The measures are being weighed up in the wake of the flurry of deadly attacks that have hit Britain this year

Police chiefs are examining whether a further increase to armed officer numbers may be needed as forces tackle the unprecedented terror threat.

Bosses are also looking at the possibility of equipping more unarmed personnel with Tasers to give them extra protection in the event they have to confront attackers, the Press Association understands.

A third option thought to be under consideration is widening the use of static armed guarding posts at key locations around the country.

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Police numbers could grow (Dominic Lipinski/PA)

The measures are being weighed up as senior figures assess whether new action may be necessary in the wake of the flurry of deadly attacks that have hit Britain this year. Their conclusions will be presented to ministers to inform any government decisions on further steps.

Armed policing numbers are currently being stepped up under a drive launched following the Paris attacks in November 2015.

Under the plan around 1,500 extra officers will be recruited across the 43 geographical police forces in England and Wales by the end of next year, with some of those deployed to highly-specialised counter-terrorism teams.

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There could be more armed police (John Stillwell/PA)

As of April there were 640 more authorised firearms officers than at the same point in 2016 as a result of the the increase, largely financed by a £143 million Home Office cash injection.

The surge also resulted in an extra 41 armed response vehicles (ARVs) – which are on hand to respond rapidly to major incidents including terror attacks – being on the road in any given 24-hour period.

When firearms officers attached to British Transport Police, the Civil Nuclear Constabulary, the National Crime Agency and the Ministry of Defence Police are included, the overall armed strength is expected to top 10,000 by next year.

Westminster attacker Khalid Masood and the London Bridge terrorists were shot dead as armed officers brought the atrocities to an end.

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Khalid Masood was shot dead by police (Stefan Rousseau/PA)

Meanwhile, rank-and-file leaders have called for other forces to follow Scotland Yard’s lead after it announced hundreds more officers will be equipped with Tasers.

The Metropolitan Police disclosed earlier this week that the devices will be issued to 1,867 extra frontline personnel, bringing the total number trained and able to carry the equipment to more than 6,400.

On Friday West Midlands Chief Constable Dave Thompson said there was a need to “think very carefully” about the need for “enhanced protection” for officers who run towards terrorists.

The Government has announced a major review of the counter-terrorism strategy to ensure police and security services have the powers they need to confront the threat.

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