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West Midland Crime commissioner says fully-armed force needs discussion after Paris terror attacks

Police and Crime Commissioner David Jamieson has said a 'serious discussion' needs to take place before drastically increasing the number of armed officers on the streets.

Armed police stand at the French Embassy in London after terror attacks killed at least 129 people in Paris.(Image: Hannah McKay/PA Wire)

Birmingham’s police boss has said a ‘serious discussion’ needs to take place before drastically increasing the number of armed officers on the streets.

Police and Crime Commissioner David Jamieson spoke after the horrific terrorist attacks in Paris, where armed Islamist militant gunmen left 129 people dead.

The deadly atrocity has now led to calls for UK police to be armed en masse, rather than relying on a small number of firearms officers.

Concerns have been raised over whether West Midlands Police would be able to cope with a surprise attack, potentially involving large numbers of killers in a number of different locations.

The Police Federation warned that specialist police firearms capacity must be enhanced to deal effectively with Paris-style attacks.

Mr Jamieson said it was vital that there were enough firearms officers available to respond to incidents, but added that arming all police was only something which could happen after a proper debate. He said: “The readiness of the police to respond to serious incidents is something that I regularly probe and take incredibly seriously.

West Midlands police and crime commissioner David Jamieson

“Making sure that we have enough specialist officers and units, such as firearms officers is crucial to protecting the public. However, we need a serious discussion before changing the British model of policing and dramatically increasing the number of armed officers patrolling our streets.”

The West Midlands force last week discovered funding is set to be £28 million lower than promised – after the government got its sums wrong over a new funding formula – described as an ‘omnishambles’.

Serious concerns have been raised about the future of neighbourhood policing in fighting extremism as a result. Home Secretary Theresa May announced around 2,000 new intelligence operatives will be hired – but officers on streets in local communities are seen as crucial for proving important information in the fight against terrorism.

Mr Jamieson said: “Neighbourhood officers are the eyes and ears of the police and play a crucial role in protecting the public from the threat of terrorism. Following the disproportionate cuts we have received from the government West Midlands Police have seen a reduction in the number of officers we have. If we have further disproportionate cuts in the Comprehensive Spending Review, this will only accelerate.

“Neighbourhood policing has a positive impact on keeping people safe and contributes to counter terrorism work.”

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