ARMED police have been given new “aggressive” guidelines to shoot drivers using a vehicle as a weapon in an attempt to stop Westminster-style attacks.
Previousl,y armed police had been advised not to shoot the driver whilst they were in control of a vehicle in case it sent it out of control, possibly causing more injuries or deaths.Simon Chesterman of the National Police Chiefs’ Council said: “We’ve seen some very horrible and different tactics lately involving vehicles and lorries.
“But if the vehicle’s being used as a weapon in the first place there aren’t many tactics available in relation to stopping it, particularly a very large lorry.
“Driving a vehicle in front of it is not going to stop it, so you need to shoot the driver.”He added: “I’m confident that our armed response vehicle officers are equipped with the right weaponry and ammunition to stop a lorry.”
As part of the change in policy, Mr Chesterman said the tactics of firearms officers were now “far more aggressive”.
They are no longer being told to “locate, contain and neutralise” but to “locate and confront”Officers have now been supplied with .556 calibre ammunition that is capable of penetrating glass and body armour.
Mr Chesterman also said that in light of recent terror attacks such as the ones in Nice and Berlin as well as London, the UK was in the process of recruiting thousands of new officers.
It is hoped the police can bring the number of armed police back up to the level of 2010 with 10,500 officers.The police are hoping to boost the number of both those deployed in armed response vehicles (ARVs), which are usually the first to respond to an incident, and counter-terrorism specialist firearms officers (CTSFOs), more akin to the military’s special forces.
He said: “There are lots of different types of glass… what tends to happen is that when a bullet hits glass, it deflects the bullet and you have either got to take the glass out or you have got to have the right ammunition to penetrate the right glass.
“But I am confident that with the work we have done and the ammunition we carry that an ARV [Armed Response Vehicle] officer has the ability to fire at the cab of a lorry in order to bring it to a stop.”Mr Chesterman also admitted that armed officers did worry about post-shooting investigations, in light of the shooting of Jermaine Baker in 2015 where the officer concerned is currently on bail and waiting to hear if he will be charged with murder.
He said that of particular concern was the draft guidance from the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) which would insist on separating officers involved in operations where weapons were fired before they gave statements on what had happened.
He said: “You’ve got this general concern about the fact that they perceive they are going to be treated as a suspect of wrongdoing, rather than a professional witness who has done their job.”On Wednesday an IPCC spokesman responded to Chesterman’s criticisms by saying the new guidance was aimed at getting the “best evidence” and denied it would treat officers as suspects.
The spokesperson said: “Separation of witnesses is usual practice during police investigations and it’s the practice we believe should take place after a death following police contact.
“That does not mean we treat or regard officers as suspects from the outset. We investigate deaths with an open mind and assess the evidence impartially.”