UK armed police told to ignore wounded, focus on neutralizing terrorist threat

Armed Response Vehicle (ARV) officers participate in a simulated millitant attack on a shopping centre during a Metropolitan Police training program for armed officers, in London December 1, 2015 © Yui Mok
Counter-terror police are being trained to rapidly tackle terrorist gunmen at the scene of an attack rather than pause to tend to wounded victims and colleagues to minimize the total number of casualties, a top police official has said.

Senior Metropolitan Police official Patricia Gallan told reporters Wednesday that armed officers need to prioritize neutralizing the attackers.

“We are asking them to do something different from what they did previously. It’s not about standing back but about going forwards towards the threat,” said Gallan, the assistant commissioner for special crime and operations.

UK police have been scrambling to review their tactics for responding to terror incidents since the Paris attacks of November 13, which claimed 130 lives.

“In that there may be casualties and in meeting that threat they will have to look over casualties that might have been injured and wait until it’s safe for someone else to go and help.”

Gallan added: “We’ve been training our officers to go forward. That is going forward in the face of firearms and shots being fired at them as well as potential explosions and such like. We believe that is potentially what will save the most lives.”

Although just 2,000 of the Metropolitan Police Service’s 32,000 officers are routinely armed, Gallan believes the force could handle a Paris-style attack.

“Do we think we have got the capability and capacity to deal with that threat? Yes, we do,” Gallan told reporters. “We in London feel we have got a response ready for any terrorist incident.”

Up to 130 counter-terrorism specialist firearms officers have been trained with Special Forces to respond to attacks such as those in Mumbai in 2008. After the Paris attacks, PM David Cameron assured Britons that 10,000 army officers would be deployed in the case of a major attack.

Last month, Metropolitan Police Chief Commissioner Bernard Hogan-Howe pledged to immediately increase the number of officers on the streets by one-third and said he hoped to double the number of officers in the long term.