Elite police marksmen will be issued with new equipment to boost their ability to deal with siege and hostage rescue situations.
Counter-terrorist specialist firearms officers (CTSFOs) will be equipped with night vision fitted to their ballistic helmets and their police-issue Sig MCX assault rifles will be fitted with a silencer on the barrel.
The rifles would be able to fire both regular and “sub-sonic” ammunition, meaning it can be “completely silenced”.
Simon Chesterman, the National Police Chiefs’ Council lead for armed policing, said the public may notice the elite units carrying the additional equipment within the next few months.
CTSFOs are trained with special forces to deal with a raft of situations including hostage rescues, and can use boats and aircraft if needed.
Mr Chesterman said the enhancements will allow officers to operate in “complete darkness”.
“What you will see over the next few months is adaptations to their weaponry,” he said.
“The barrels on their carbines will change because they will be silenced.
“You will see their helmets fitted with night vision, so they can operate in complete darkness.
“It’s been authorised by the Chiefs’ Council – it’s a matter of procurement and it’s slowly rolling out. Night vision is already out there.”
He said the equipment was “unlikely” to be issued to regular armed officers, saying: “It’s a very expensive, high-end tactic and niche capability”.