Police forces are effective in the deployment of firearms, new report finds

Police forces are effective in deploying firearms, and officers discharged weapons at only 0.02 per cent of armed operations in 2021-22, a new report has found.

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An inspection of how effective police forces are in the deployment of firearms

His Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services (HMICFRS) found that there are good selection processes for firearms officers, and officers are well-trained and well-equipped.

However, the inspectorate said improvements need to be made in the selection and training of strategic and tactical firearms commanders because they manage a high degree of risk.

HMICFRS has made 12 recommendations to help policing improve. These include:

  • a review of the strategic firearms commander course to ensure candidates have enough opportunities to learn and practise skills;
  • introducing new entry criteria for strategic and tactical firearms commanders, similar to the process used to select public order commanders;
  • sharing of armed policing exercises to allow opportunities for learning to be identified and shared; and
  • improving record keeping in relation to armed operations and introducing regular auditing of these records.

Assistant HM Inspector of Constabulary Nicola Faulconbridge said:

“The deployment of armed officers is a high-risk area of policing and our inspection found that officers involved in armed policing are generally well-trained, effective and focused on keeping the public safe.

“Although there are some encouraging findings in our report, we also found some areas that need improvement. These included strengthening the training of strategic firearms commanders, who have overall command and responsibility for firearms operations.

“Our report makes 12 recommendations to help the police improve a national system which already has good governance and structures.”

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An inspection of how effective police forces are in the deployment of firearms


  1. For further information, the HMICFRS Press Office can be contacted at 0300 071 6781 or HMICPressOffice@hmicfrs.gov.uk.