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Armed police could 'possibly' be paid more to reflect the risks they face, policing minister tells LBC
26 September 2023, 08:42 | Updated: 26 September 2023, 08:54
The policing minister has said armed officers could possibly be in line for a pay rise to reflect the increased risks they face.
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His comments come after dozens of Metropolitan Police officers stepped away from armed duties after one of their colleagues was charged with murder last week.
Asked if there was an argument for weapons trained police to earn more, Chris Philp told LBC this morning: "Yeah possibly there is.
"Chief constables deal with operational measures like who gets trained and who gets given a firearm ticket but they do put themselves in extraordinary danger."
"We need to make sure the law is on their side when the police do what is necessary to protect us, the public," he said.
Police who carry guns currently do it on a voluntary basis, with no extra pay despite the advanced training and risk involved.
"It wouldn't be a good thing if the police feel they can't do what is necessary to protect the public because the law is too heavy on their back, and that is what the review is designed to achieve.
"Of course if there is misconduct that needs to be dealt with but we need to make sure it is not excessive and the police officers don't feel they are being stopped from doing their job protecting the public. They're on our side, we need to be on their side as well," Mr Philp said.
Cover had to be drafted in from neighbouring forces after around 100 of the Met's 2,595 marksmen were refusing to perform their armed roles.
The military also agreed to help, but soldiers do not have the authority to be used for routine policing and can only be used in the case of a terrorist attack or for guarding certain locations such as nuclear sites.
A Metropolitan Police spokesman said: "On Saturday, the Ministry of Defence agreed to provide the Met with counter-terrorism support as a contingency option.
"As of lunchtime on Monday, the number of officers who had returned to armed duties was sufficient for us to no longer require external assistance to meet our counter-terrorism responsibilities."
The force has taken a conciliatory tone since the officers downed tools, saying bosses were working to understand their "genuinely held concerns".
Earlier the Prime Minister said armed police need clarity about the legal powers they have after Met Police chief Sir Mark Rowley called for greater legal protection for officers.
The Commissioner welcomed a review of armed policing ordered by Home Secretary Suella Braverman who said she wanted to ensure marksmen "have the confidence to do their job".
Rishi Sunak, speaking to broadcasters during a visit to a community centre in Broxbourne, Hertfordshire, on Monday, said: "Our firearms officers do an incredibly difficult job.
"They are making life or death decisions in a split second to keep us safe and they deserve our gratitude for their bravery.
"Now it is important when they are using these legal powers that they do so with clarity and they have certainty about what they are doing, especially given the lethality they are using."
In an open letter to the Home Secretary published on Sunday, Sir Mark suggested legal changes over the way self-defence is interpreted in police misconduct cases.
He also put forward the introduction of a criminal standard of proof for unlawful killing in inquests and inquiries, along with changes to the threshold at which the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) can launch an investigation.
Sir Mark said: "There is a concern on the part of firearms officers that even if they stick to the tactics and training they have been given, they will face years of protracted legal proceedings which impact on their personal wellbeing and that of their family.
"While previous reviews have been announced, they have not delivered change.
"Carrying a firearm is voluntary. We rely on officers who are willing to put themselves at risk on a daily basis to protect the public from dangerous criminals including terrorists.
"Officers need sufficient legal protection to enable them to do their job and keep the public safe, and the confidence that it will be applied consistently and without fear or favour."