Met police: Soldiers no longer needed to support force as ‘enough armed officers return to duties’

Soldiers were on Monday told they were no longer needed to support Met firearms officers as Scotland Yard managed to plug a shortfall of armed police.

Some service personnel had been put on duty in the capital to work alongside Met firearms officers on standby to respond to any terror attack.

Their deployment was caused by concern at Scotland Yard that there were insufficient police fireams officers available to perform counter-terror duties in the wake of a decision by some firearms officers to stop carrying weapons following the murder charge brought against one of their colleagues over the fatal shooting of Chris Kaba.

He was shot dead in Streatham Hill last September by an officer, known only as NX121, who now faces trial and a potential life sentence as a result.

A BBC report claimed that up to 300 firearms officers had downed their weapons in response amid concerns about the lack of legal protection for police dealing with armed incidents.

Scotland Yard sources suggested that figure - which followed earlier indications that around 100 firearms officers had decided to stop carrying weapons- was too high as they initially confirmed that soldiers had been put on duty to fill a gap in its counter-terrorism firearms response teams.

But as efforts to reassure officers continued the Met said later that the situation had eased and that military help was no longer required.

The decision to rescind the request for military help follows a call by Met Commissioner Sir Mark Rowley for an overhaul of the way in which police are held to account over firearms incidents and other use of force.

Home Secretary Suella Braverman has also ordered a review of armed policing, saying that officers risking their lives “mustn’t fear ending up in the dock for carrying out their duties.”

Another government minister, housing minister Rachel Maclean echoed Ms Braverman’s comments today, saying that “very brave officers who have to make split-second decisions in the interest of public safety” should not be left afraid that they risked prosecution for doing their job.

The words of support were insufficient to stave off an immediate crisis, however, as the Met faced a shortfall in its capacity to perform its counter-terrorism role and tasks responding to incidents involving armed criminals.

Part of the gap was being filled today by a small number of armed officers from other forces, despite the reported refusal of some firearms police from other parts of the country to assist the Met in the wake of last week’s murder charge.

But the most significant deployment involved soldiers put on standby to respond to any London terror attack over the coming days following a request by Scotland Yard and the Home Office for assistance from the Ministry of Defence.

Sources emphasised before the news that military help was no longer needed that the soldiers would not be patrolling the capital and were likely to remain out sight unless a terrorist incident occurs, but had been asked to operate alongside Met firearms officers routinely on standby to deal with any attack.