Military personnel could be drafted in to cover for Metropolitan Police firearms officers after dozens are thought to have withdrawn from armed duty.
More than 100 police officers are reported to have turned in their permits to carry weapons after an officer was charged with the murder of unarmed Chris Kaba this week. The Met has described the possible move as a “contingency option”.
A spokesperson for the force said: “The Ministry of Defence has agreed to a request to provide the Met with counterterrorism support should it be needed. This is a contingency option that would only be used in specific circumstances and where an appropriate policing response was not available.
“Armed forces personnel will not be used in a routine policing capacity. We will keep the need for the support under constant review.”
It comes after Home Secretary Suella Braverman came under fire on Sunday as she waded into the debate despite there being active criminal proceedings in the case. Responding to the news officers had handed over their weapons, Ms Braverman announced she had ordered a review, commenting: “Brave firearms officers… mustn’t fear ending up in the dock for carrying out their duties”.
The Secretary of State faced criticism for the tweet, as legal experts said it may prejudice a jury in any potential criminal trial. Former Chief Crown Prosecutor Nazir Afzal said: “This is the HOME SECRETARY intervening in an ongoing prosecution.
“There is no justification for doing so. Would briefing police representatives privately not have sufficed? No, she has to publicly interfere & potentially, adversely, impact the case.”
Mr Kaba died in September last year after he was fatally shot by a MPS officer in Streatham, South London. The 24-year-old, who was months away from becoming a father at the time, had been in a vehicle when he was shot.
The IOPC confirmed on Wednesday that a serving officer had been charged with murder. The officer, who cannot be named for legal reasons, appeared at Westminster magistrates court on Thursday.
IOPC director Amanda Rowe said: “Our thoughts remain with Mr Kaba’s family and everyone affected by this tragic incident. It’s important now that criminal proceedings are able to run their course. We would reiterate the importance of not reporting, commenting or sharing information online which could in any way prejudice those proceedings.”