Suella Braverman’s review into armed policing will help restore confidence among Britain’s firearms officers, according to the UK’s former counter-terrorism chief.
Neil Basu said he welcomed the Home Secretary’s intervention days after an armed policeman was charged with murdering Chris Kaba, a 23-year-old black man, who was shot dead while driving through south London in November 2022.
Scotland Yard was thrown into turmoil this week after hundreds of authorised firearms officers laid down their weapons in protest at the decision by the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) to charge the unnamed officer.
The fallout resulted in the Army being placed on standby to support counter-terrorism operations before they were stood down on Monday when some officers returned to work and other forces offered to support the Met.
Speaking to BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, Mr Basu, a former assistant commissioner for the Metropolitan Police, said the review would help lift spirits of firearms officers after being “ducked” by successive Conservative governments.
“There clearly was a massive crisis this week, I’m hoping that crisis has now been averted. The Commissioner has clearly decided he is capable of deploying enough armed officers,” he said.
“This issue has been going on for years… the last Prime Minister to say they would deal with a review is David Cameron. So that’s how long this has been going for. That review has been ducked.
“The fact the Home Secretary has agreed to a review would have restored some confidence in armed policing.”
Metropolitan Police Commissioner Sir Mark Rowley has called for better legal protection for officers who used force while on duty and said there must be more clarity about their right to defend themselves.
In a letter to Ms Braverman following the announcement of her review, Sir Mark also criticised the pace of the justice system, saying that even when officers followed their training and tactics they could still end up facing years of protracted legal proceedings.
But a former police chief has raised doubts about the effectiveness of any review.
Sir Peter Fahy, the chief constable of Greater Manchester Police between 2008 and 2015, questioned whether the review would take into account the “bigger picture” of low morale felt inside the nation’s police forces.
“There is a huge gulf between policing and the Home Office,” he told the BBC. “Officers understand the impact of some of the serious cases particularly involving the Metropolitan Police but feel a lot of the criticism is unbalanced, that they are unappreciated and that really the media and politicians just don’t understand the reality of day-to-day police work.
“I think the review is not going to be wide enough. At the end of the day this is a matter of criminal law and police officers are subject to the criminal law in the same way as everybody else. I think there is a much wider issue about morale in policing.”