An elite police squad is to be set up in Birmingham in the run-up to the Olympics to tackle the threat of a Mumbai-style terror attack.
According to reports the squad will be one of a number across the country with handpicked marksmen ready to repel armed attacks.
They will be armed with Heckler & Koch sub-machine guns that are capable of firing up to 750 rounds per minute.
The network of armed squads will mirror the established counter-terrorism hubs set up five years ago following the London Tube bombings. One of those units is based in the West Midlands.
As well as terrorists the units will be able to respond to incidents such as the killing spree by taxi driver Derrick Bird, in Cumbria earlier this year. Twelve people were killed before Bird killed himself.
Police firearms units are currently training with SAS troops to hone tactics to tackle the threat of terrorists rampaging through public spaces and taking hostages.
The units would be able to target terrorists before they have chance wreak the havoc seen in Mumbai in November 2008 when ten gunmen killed 174 people.
A source said: “The requirement to meet the threat goes beyond the mission of the police. So it’s been decided the police need new tactics to meet that threat
Details of the armed unit emerged as security chiefs continued to monitor Al-Qaeda plans to carry out commando-style on hotels and the UK threat level stood at severe.
A West Midlands Police spokesman said: “In recent times the force has made improved resources available to the firearms unit. This is not in response to any specific information suggesting an increased threat to the West Midlands.
“However, it has enhanced the capability of the department to deal with a wide range of potential incidents. This is in line with a national plan to improve our ability to protect the public in such circumstances.
“We can confirm that a number of vehicles and officers are routinely deployed around the force area on a 24/7 basis.”