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Firearms (Police)

Volume 131: debated on Thursday 14 April 1988

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To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what was the number of operations in which firearms were issued to police officers in England and Wales in 1987; in how many of those operations shots have been fired by police officers; how many police officers are currently qualified to carry firearms; and what were the equivalent figures for (a) 1986 and (b) 1983.

[pursuant to his reply, 24 March 1988, c. 186.]: I regret that the reply was inaccurate. The correct reply is as follows:

The number of operations in England and Wales, against criminals or those known or believed to be armed, in which firearms were issued to police officers in 1987 was 2,185. This was 10·92 per cent. fewer than in 1986 and 31·29 per cent. fewer than in 1983. Police officers fired shots in seven, or 0·003 per cent., of those operations. The number of such operations in which shots were fired by police officers in the preceding four years was three in 1983; six in 1984; seven in 1985; and one in 1986. As at 31 December 1987 a total of 7,349 police officers in England and Wales were qualified to carry firearms. This was 12·46 per cent. fewer than at the end of 1986 and 43·66 per cent. fewer than at the end of 1983. The latest figure represents 5·99 per cent. of the total police strength in England and Wales.