More than 90% of UK police personnel do not carry firearms. According to polls, the great majority of them want to keep it that way. This was not done in the expectation that US cops would lay down their weapons. An unarmed police force would be helpless in the world's most armed nation. The decision was made to avoid any possibility of abuse of power.
Police officers in Britain are not trained in gun use and only a very small number will ever hold a firearm while on duty. In fact, they get special training to learn how to handle themselves in knife fights. They know that they will probably never have to use their weapon in the line of duty and so they are not taught how to shoot.
There are about 5,000 police officers in England and Wales who are trained in the use of Tasers, which work by sending 50,000 volts into the body of a target. However, even these officers do not usually carry their weapons on patrol because they know it is against policy.
In Britain, police officers can be given medals for bravery. There are several categories including life-threatening injuries or deaths caused by an offender. If an officer is able to stop a suspect from harming themselves or others then they will receive a commendation certificate.
It is possible for British citizens to become honorary police officers.
The great majority of police officers in the United Kingdom do not carry firearms. Their role is generally to provide a presence on the streets and in public spaces, while other officers perform the more dangerous tasks such as crime scene investigation and armed combat.
However, some British police forces do have a firearm unit. These are usually specialised sections within the uniform branch of an officer's career, but there are also civilian positions called firearms officers. They conduct searches at night using infrared lights and heat sensors. They also protect government buildings and other important sites.
London has the most heavily policed city centre of any major international metropolis, with over 700 officers deployed across the capital's square mile area. They use firearms primarily for training purposes; however, they do have the authority to fire their weapons in cases where they feel it is necessary for their own protection or someone else's.
In January 2019, it was reported that two firearms had been lost during operations by the Metropolitan Police Service. One weapon was found during a search of a house in Wapping, east London, the other was discovered after being dropped off at a police firing range in Hampshire. There were no arrests related to these incidents.
Finally, a tiny number of police departments strictly restrict their officers' use of guns. In New Zealand, Norway, and the United Kingdom, police personnel do not generally carry guns (except in Northern Ireland, where officers of the Police Service of Northern Ireland are armed).
In these countries, soldiers or civilian security guards usually carry out the function of police officers. The only exception is in New Zealand, where all officers can apply for a gun license but most choose not to do so; instead, they use other means to resolve conflict, such as using physical force or asking for help from fellow officers.
Armed police officers are common in America's large cities. However, not all cities with a police department have armed officers. Some smaller towns and rural areas have police departments that do not allow their officers to carry firearms. Others may have an officer-in-training program where newly hired officers go through training and are allowed to carry weapons later. Still others may have staff members who are armed and act as marshals at events who don't hold regular office hours.
Some cities with small police forces have tried to address this issue by forming mutual aid pacts with neighboring departments that allow for shared resources. For example, if an officer from City A calls in sick due to illness, another officer from City B will fill in for him or her. This allows both cities to keep their staffing levels even though their populations are different.
All police personnel in Northern Ireland are armed. Only a few police officers in the remainder of the United Kingdom carry guns; that task is instead performed by properly trained firearms officers.
In 2011, the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland announced plans to phase out the use of firearms by police officers. The only exception would be cases where they fear for their lives or those of others. As of January 2012, about 140 officers were licensed to use firearms.
In August 2014, it was reported that two police officers had been killed while on duty in Northern Ireland since the start of the year. They both died after being shot multiple times with rifles. Police have not confirmed which branch of service these officers belonged to.
However, it is known that both men were equipped with Taser weapons which are used by some officers as a less-than-lethal option to reduce the risk of injury during encounters with suspects.
Police officers in Northern Ireland can apply to use firearms under three circumstances: when performing their daily duties, making an arrest, or during special operations like drug raids or searches without a warrant. To be allowed to carry a gun, an officer must go through a rigorous training program and obtain a license from the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI).