More police firearms operations in Nottinghamshire
There were more police operations involving firearms in Nottinghamshire last year, new figures show.
Figures from the Home Office show armed police officers were deployed 142 times by Nottinghamshire Police in the year to March, up three per cent from the year before, when there were 138 firearms operations.
Across England and Wales, the number of police firearms operations stayed largely the same, with 18,259 in the year to March, and 18,245 the year before.
However, it represented a drop compared with the year leading up to the coronavirus pandemic, when there were 19,393 operations.
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Armed officers intentionally fired a weapon just four times nationally last year – and there has been just one year in the last decade where this number reached double figures.
Across the East Midlands, there were 1,113 firearms operations in 2021-22, carried out by 272 weapons-trained officers.
Most police operations do not involve the use of firearms, although armed officers are deployed in certain cases such as for incidents involving violent crime, or to patrol high-risk areas.
But Liberty, a human rights charity, has raised concerns about the number of firearms operations carried out.
Emmanuelle Andrews, Liberty policy and campaigns manager, said: "We agree use of firearms should be rolled back, but it’s important to remember they are not the only dangerous weapons in the police’s toolkit.
“Supposedly ‘less lethal’ weapons like Tasers can and do kill – earlier this year, an officer was charged with grievous bodily harm after he shot a young black man, Jordan Walker-Brown, with a TASER, leaving him paralysed from the chest down.”
The Government has encouraged police forces to deploy 'less lethal' weapons, which aim to incapacitate suspects, rather than cause long-term harm, as a means of reducing the number of firearms it uses.
Separate Home Office figures show there were more than 34,000 incidents involving a ‘conducted energy device’, such as a Taser, in the year to March 2021, including 431 in Nottinghamshire, up seven per cent from the year before, and more than double the 17,000 in 2017-18.
A Home Office spokesman said: “We’re committed to giving the police the resources they need to fight crime.
“That’s why we’ve given policing an additional £1.1 billion this year and are recruiting 20,000 additional officers.”
Superintendent Louise Clarke, of Nottinghamshire Police, said: “Our number one priority as a force is to keep people safe.
“In order to ensure we can protect the public, it is sometimes necessary for us to deploy armed officers.
“Every incident which requires an armed response is always carefully assessed and managed to ensure we can maximise the safety of the public and our officers and staff during such incidents.
“Nottingham and Nottinghamshire are really great and safe places to live and visit and the number of incidents in which we deploy armed officers is relatively low.
“Taser is also among the vast array of techniques our police officers use to de-escalate dangerous situations in order to keep the public and officers safe.
“Our highly-trained officers will only ever discharge a Taser when necessary and their use is subject to close scrutiny.
"In most cases, their mere presence serves as a proportionate deterrent and de-escalator in some very dangerous situations in order to protect public safety which is our paramount concern.”