As Secretary of State for the Home Department, I have today given approval for the College of Policing to issue the code of practice for armed policing and police use of less lethal weapons.
The code of practice describes the roles and responsibilities of chief officers in relation to armed policing and less lethal weapons. It is relevant to all police officers in England and Wales involved in armed policing or the use of less lethal weapons setting out as it does the basic principles of the selection, evaluation, approval, authorisation, acquisition, training and deployment of these weapons by the police.
The code replaces the 2003 code of practice for the police use of firearms and less lethal weapons. The code has a statutory basis in law, meaning that all police officers have a duty to have regard to it. The revised code of practice should be used in conjunction with the College of Policing authorised professional practice (APP) for armed policing. Alongside the APP the code of practice will help to ensure that the police force maintains the high standards for the police use of firearms, specialist munitions and less lethal weapons, for which the UK is renowned.
The new code also addresses the recommendation made to the Home Office by the Anthony Grainger public inquiry. The inquiry, which was established following the shooting of Anthony Grainger by the police in March 2012, concerns the authorisation of new weapon systems. It stated:
“The Secretary for State of the Home Department should ensure that the new code of practice on police use of firearms and less lethal weapons contains an express prohibition on the use of a new weapon system by the police service until the approval process set out in the code of practice has been completed and the new systems has been approved by the Secretary of State”.
The Government accept this recommendation. The revised code makes it clear that all new less lethal weapons and specialist munitions for use by police forces in England and Wales, and all significant changes to these weapons, must be approved by the Home Secretary.
In relation to the other recommendations, addressed to the police and others, it is the Government’s intention to provide a formal response in due course, once we have fully considered the report, and any recommendations therein. My officials have asked the National Police Chiefs’ Council and Greater Manchester police to set out how they will respond to the concerns raised by the inquiry and improve the safety of armed policing operations.
Finally, I would like to thank our police officers for the invaluable role they play in keeping the country safe, and the College of Policing for the work it has done on the code of practice. The code of practice has been laid before Parliament today and copies will be available from the Vote Office. It will also be available to view on the College of Policing website https://www.college. police.uk/Pages/Home.aspx and on gov.uk https://www.gov. uk/government/publications/armed-policing-and-police-use-of-less-lethal-weapons-code-of-practice.