Alarm as armed police patrol London streets

By Emmeline Saunders

Concerns have been raised over plans for armed police officers to patrol certain streets in London.

The pilot scheme will see armed Metropolitan officers carry out daily patrols in different trouble spots across the capital.

Officers from the Met’s CO19 firearms unit have already carried patrols in Tottenham, Brixton and Haringey.

The police claim the plan is aimed at making people feel safer in areas currently affected by gang violence and is a response to the 17 per cent rise in gun crime over the past six months.

However, the prospect of armed police patrolling streets in London has been met with considerable opposition by campaign groups.

Campaign group Libertys legal director James Welch said: “Armed police patrols should not become a regular sight in our cities without a full public debate on the issue.”

A spokeswoman for Mayor of London Boris Johnson also expressed initial concerns of the scheme.

“The mayor was concerned by reports about the use of armed officers but has been reassured by [Met commissioner] Sir Paul Stephenson there is no intention of using armed police in routine manner,” she said.

“Armed police have a role in certain circumstances but that should be the exception not the norm.”

Inspector Derek Carroll, who leads the armed unit, said: “Historically, CO19 was only called out when someone rang up to report a gun crime.

“But a lot of streets in London have young people in postcode gangs, aged 14 and upwards, and a lot of communities feel that they are controlling areas of estates.

“We are looking at gangs that have access to firearms and will be robust in dealing with them.”