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Special Report: Training For Terror


it's the biggest change in British arms policing in a generation we've been given unprecedented access to the new recruits I'm a quiet or I'll split the ones who could be first in facing the terrorists they are armed and carrying big responsibility the marauding gunmen that struck in Mumbai back in 2008 changed the thinking of UK police forces first Paris attacks saw roaming gunmen in the heart of Europe but it was the simultaneous strikes in November that changed everything scene after scene of mass murder we now live in a constant state of alert across Europe we've seen cities in lockdown and more weapons on the streets to both deter and protect in the UK the response in part is this the biggest surge in armed officers that UK police forces have ever known and when I looked at that I just kind of talked I hope I never have to deal with that but I also talked so anyway I better prepare in case I'd ever happens and that's what we've been doing literally from the Mulley afterwards we started planning and preparing there seems to be getting closer and closer and it used to be all what if I think now people are when we know there is a determination to attacking the West from DICE and actually the decision after Paris really was that that was a game-changing moment and it was right to take a sort of more assertive posture about how we positioned firearms in placing keep those fingers up the trigger when the call went out after Paris these are the men and women who put up their hands experienced unarmed officers want to join the West Midlands police firearms unit course is grueling and takes months to get through take your time Alicia is normally a Detective Sergeant this is day one with the carbine gun a compact semi-automatic rifle he's not easy initiative all right well I'm going I'm left-handed usually yeah and I submit to try shoot right-handed as well so website the mechanics are a little bit alien to me so I'm just trying to get used to that as well you know you do have press coverage as soon as an officer shoot somebody everybody starts to look for a reason to point the finger at the officer and find fault with the decision and that for me that was more of a thought you know something to really sit down and think about could I deal with that the number of shots actually fired from real by all armed officers in a whole year is usually in single figures each one though loaded with implications and you ask them out right you make it clear it many many stages long way what they're taking off absolutely and on day one of assault because all that's yes the question could you take somebody's life could you deal with it emotionally could your family deal with emotionally and obviously that is constantly in the forefront of their minds as they progress through the training the number of armed police had actually been falling now to meet the perceived threat 1,500 extra officers are retraining across England and Wales andy is also one of them 20 years in the force and ready for something different his accuracy improving all the time you seem more confident with it now I'm more confident with the weapon again and that's just because girls have done again and again again so it's it is it is practice every time you stand there it's still a daunting experience like every student here a debt has thought long and hard about what she's taking on I have no knowledge of guns before I came yeah so I find that the working parts with it when they explain what they're doing what they just and why it all makes sense and then you you're shooting just gets better when you actually feel you've got control you can shoot then the reality kicks in a little bit more the training is really really difficult and it should be if for any second for me for any second I didn't feel it was the right path for me I'd also pull out of the process what yeah extra pressure the potential consequences it's not actually anything extra in their pay tacit oxygen training here or indeed their colleagues who are already qualified out on the streets of the West Midlands they are here as volunteers if they make it through every stage of the course they could be picking up their weapons for real at the police Armory here each officer is assigned their own weapons it's down to them to confirm that they and their firearms are ready for a shift armed police patrols are often first in officers like Rob and Alex I just have a quick word make sure we get the stops I'm developing so it can be anything from a drunken argument like that one thank you like right through to international terrorism I don't want an attack to happen by any stretch of the imagination but I don't think I don't think I'll have the right moral character to be a police officer it for the first sign of danger I turned away and you know handed in a badge or said I'm not doing this you know I'll go and work in an office or some friends family no be aware of what's happening in the world you know they are concerned but having a really really quickly old training Lee I know we're no hero a better position than most to deal with that you know that that threat shape even when it does arise but completely different ball grain I think in a terrorist type attack – perhaps a regular firearms incident and the threat level is obviously going to be much much higher I think the people that potentially would be going up against their mindset is totally different to that of an armed robbery I would suggest that I want you think Albert you know they're playing a very very different games for different set of rules because of that the orders have changed this exercise in London last year showed what it might look like here it's drilled into them even for qualified firearms officers the training is refreshed again and again there are many different scenarios that they train for of which a marauding terrorist firearms incident is just one and for that reason we can't show you if you think that they are doing we can't film absolutely every tactic that is quite understandable but the reality is that most of these officers will be dealing far more with instance perhaps of domestic violence for example I complain the electronic all their job is to tackle all kinds of violent offenders so if they did come face to face with a gunman firing indiscriminately their instruction is to shoot that individual as an absolute priority you have to make the decision that is gonna be the one that saves the lives and you know it might mean that momentarily your you are leaving people injured possibly dying people calling for help I don't step over and if I don't walk past than if I don't continue then I am a greater target as are more as my colleagues and more of the public I would be armed and be able to take that dumpty take that purse and take the shot if need be and and stop them so gently the sharp end of Lisa makes you realize just how serious things okay Steven crag is a top human rights barrister who's worked on many cases where police forces have got it wrong that's sending clients who suffer from an accessibility please rating right health is it's very hard to discern any way in which the police have decided they need twice as many armed police officers at the moment one of the problems is that there's no national record kept by the police on use of force and so there's nothing for them to base the increase on the temptation must be for police to use firearms off officers or more occasions and there's a risk that they'll be used in situations where they're not now and probably don't need to be the face of that the home office is funding this increase in numbers and equipment it's happening in urban police forces across the UK we've doubled doubled our response farms response at key times and key locations and we're working towards to having that 24/7 all over the West minute so yeah if we had something happen and I hope it doesn't I think when I reach really strong position to deal with it quickly and effectively if I was a new street station or the bullring shopping center how close your offices they'll be done be a vehicle with a quarter mile there would be a vehicle within a couple of minutes of respond so I can commonly say that because we move our vehicles around we change on intelligence every day where we deploy them but as effectively as possible to the threat to time but our key places where there is crowded places a lot of people around you're talking minutes at any time 24/7 West Midlands Police haven't had any fatal shootings in the past 20 years but across England and Wales since 2004 24 people have been shot dead by police officers I am really committed the British policing has to and should remained an alarm service it's vitally important because it's the style of policing we've got terrorism shouldn't change that it's vital we build good links with the community and being armed would I think interfere with our and it enables me actually to pick only the absolute best officers to be training the use of firearms some students won't make the cut but for most the people in their sights will soon be real almost always they will defuse situations through simply talking but being ready for the worst-case scenarios is now more relevant than ever the threat is there on every shift


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