SUSSEX POLICE has moved to qualm concerns expressed by an MP in parliament over the number of armed officers the force has at its disposal.
Peter Kyle, Labour MP for Hove and Portslade, told Prime Minister David Cameron that Sussex Police only had seven armed officers on duty.
However chief superintendent Tony Blaker contested this, saying: “Plans for deployments, locations and timings are obviously operationally sensitive and we will not provide any detail of these except to say that the figure quoted publicly today for firearms officer availability does not represent the true level, which is significantly higher than that quoted.”
He urged the public to remain ‘vigilant’ and to report any suspicious behaviour or activity by calling the confidential anti-terrorist hotline on 0800 789 321 or 999 in an emergency.
The chief superintendent added: “We have well-developed response plans for any terrorist incidents and these have been exercised with partners, locally, regionally and nationally. Armed response officers are deployed 24/7 across Surrey and Sussex and are able to respond quickly to any incident, whether at Gatwick or elsewhere.”
He said there were extra numbers of officers available on call to give ‘further firearms capability’.
“The current deployment of armed officers is based on our assessment and intelligence about the likelihood of incidents involving armed criminality, including terrorism,” he said. “The response to any such incident will also involve immediate support from our neighbouring forces, and resources which are part of national contingency plans.”
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