Most police officers in the UK do not routinely carry firearms. Where firearms support is needed, it is carried out by specially trained and accredited firearms officers known as authorised firearms officers (AFOs).
In the Met, firearms support is primarily provided by MO19 Specialist Firearms Command. There are also firearms officers in a number of other units, such as Aviation Policing, Royalty and Specialist Protection Command, and the Parliamentary and Diplomatic Protection Command.
There are multiple levels of armed officers. Officers undergo rigorous selection and training to become a firearms officer. Their initial, and continued training, is dependent on the role they’re operationally required to perform. All training is governed by the College of Policing’s ‘National Police Firearms Training Curriculum’ (NPFTC). The curriculum, in tandem with the Met’s chief firearms instructor, ensures that the relevant training modules are completed by all officers within their specific role profile.
Here are some examples of what an authorised firearms officer's duties could include:
responding to high-risk incidents
taking part in proactive policing operations where intelligence suggests firearms support may be required
providing public reassurance at events
providing enhanced and ballistic medical aid to help save lives
working closely with partners, including the military
Even though our armed officers attend thousands of incidents every year, their advanced levels of training in conflict resolution and de-escalation means that it is incredibly rare for an officer to have to discharge their firearm in order to achieve their policing aim. All firearms officers are trained to assess intelligence and threat assessments. They are accountable for any ballistic rounds that they may discharge in order to minimise any risk to the public.