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REVEALED: Norfolk and Suffolk police fired 196 shots in five years, but no injuries

PUBLISHED: 06:00 28 March 2020

Armed police officers in Norfolk and Suffolk have fired lethal firearms nearly 200 times in the last five years, new figures show. Photo: Archant

Armed police officers in Norfolk and Suffolk have fired lethal firearms nearly 200 times in the last five years, new figures show. Photo: Archant

Archant

Armed police officers in Norfolk and Suffolk have shot their guns nearly 200 times in the last five years, but have not injured or killed anyone, figures reveal.

Armed police on patrol in King's Lynn. Picture: Chris BishopArmed police on patrol in King's Lynn. Picture: Chris Bishop

Norfolk officers have fired 51 live rounds since 2015, while officers in Suffolk have fired 145 rounds, data obtained through a Freedom of Information request shows.

The 196 times police fired live rounds in the last five years compares with 1,216 incidents responded to by armed police officers in the same period - meaning armed officers fired their weapons at 16.1pc of reports they attended.

Reasons why armed officers were sent to incidents included threats of animal destruction, threats of a blunt instrument, threats of an edged weapon, or threats of a firearm.

READ MORE: Guns and cash seized in cross-border armed police sting

A spokesman for both forces said the overwhelming majority of the shots fired were related to the “dispatch of suffering animals, usually animals that have been involved in a collision with a vehicle”.

They added: “There was no death or injury to a person related to the police use of firearms within this period.”

Officers are instead much more likely to respond to incidents, even serious reports such as knife crime, with non-lethal options including tasers, dogs, incapacitant spray, batons or attenuating energy projectiles (AEPs) also known as ‘rubber bullets’.

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In Norfolk, police armed with lethal weapons attended 490 incidents since January 2015, but police armed with non-lethal weapons responded to 3,730 incidents.

In Suffolk, armed police attended 726 incidents in the same period, while officers armed with non-lethal weapons have attended 3,261 incidents.

While every officer is equipped with a non-lethal baton and incapacitant spray, and police dogs are included as non-lethal options, of these combined, on 6,991 occasions officers in the region had to use a non-lethal weapon, with 835 incidences including pointing the red dot of a taser at a suspect.

READ MORE: Norfolk force receives eleven allegations of abuse by staff

Tasers were actually fired, or used with a ‘drive stun’, pressed against a suspect, 184 times. Officers in Suffolk also fired AEPs three times in the last five years.

“Our armed and specially trained unarmed taser officers are trained to strict national standards and both constabularies comply with the College of Policing Authorised Professional Practice,” a spokesman said.

“Our continued training collaboration and shared armed asset tracking technology with regional forces ensure that armed officers can seamlessly provide support across our borders to counter the most serious threats.”

Armed police at City Service, Ber Street, NorwichArmed police at City Service, Ber Street, Norwich


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