Havering commander defends Met’s move to deploy more armed officers on streets

Armed policemen on patrol. Photo: Jonathan Brady/PA Wire/PA Images.

Armed policemen on patrol. Photo: Jonathan Brady/PA Wire/PA Images. - Credit: PA Wire/PA Images

The borough’s police commander has defended the Met’s move to deploy more armed police on the streets in a bid to keep the capital safe.

This week marks the start of Operation Hercules, where the first of 600 trained armed officers become ready for operation on targeted patrols in vehicles and foot across the capital.

Speaking at the Crime and Disorder Overview and Scrutiny Committee meeting at Havering Town Hall, Main Road, Romford, on Tuesday, commander Ch Supt Jason Gwillim said the public “needed” to be reassured.

“We need to be on alert,” he said.

According to the MI5 website, the current threat level for international terrorism in the UK is severe - meaning an attack is highly likely.

“It’s not a question of if it will happen, but when,” he added.

But Cllr David Durant’s (Independent Residents Group, Rainham and Wennington) said: “This is growing towards the militarisation of the police on public display. If they [the police] get an adrenaline attack, there’s going to be mistakes. You’re [the police] introducing capital punishment.

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“All these guns are changing the culture.”

Ch Supt Gwillim added: “We must not forget that one of the key areas of an attack was the Tube system.”

On July 7 2005 - known as 7/7 - four extremists targeted commuters during the rush hour leaving 52 people dead and more than 700 injured.

Two weeks after, Jean Charles de Menezes was killed by armed officers at Stockwell Tube Station after he was wrongly deemed a fugitive involved in a failed bombing attempt.

“The greatest threat is not the terrorist attack but the fear of an attack,” continued Ch Supt Gwillim.

“We need to reassure the public.”