Chief Constable: ‘This isn’t Grand Theft Auto – Armed Essex Police officers made 121 arrests in 2023, and they have not fired a shot in the last 8 years’
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Essex Police chief constable Ben-Julian Harrington has cast a light on the force’s highly trained firearms officers, saying: “This is not Grand Theft Auto – this is controlled, effective armed policing.”
He also gave an insight into the control and planning behind a firearms deployment, adding: “not everyone has the courage to run towards danger”.
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In the last year, there have been 503 armed deployments in Essex. 181 related to a reported firearms threat and 64 to reports of a knife or similar weapon being seen.
In that time, Essex firearms officers have made 121 arrests. No shots have been fired since 2015
Mr Harrington, who is among the longest-serving chief constables in England and Wales, said:
“These men and women attend incidents, protect critical infrastructure, and are first and foremost police officers. “They are also advanced paramedics and they support policing right across the county on every level. You may never see them – so much of their work is unseen, but it is vital. “We do live in a time when armed threats exist, whether that be people carrying knives or other objects, or indeed firearms. Our firearms officers act as a deterrent to serious organised criminals and their very presence makes us safer.”
503 armed deployments in the last year
Over the past 12 months, there have been 503 armed deployments in Essex.
Of those, 326 were spontaneous, with others being planned operations.
Out of the 503 instances, 181 related to a reported firearms threat and 64 to reports of a knife or similar weapon being seen.
In that time, Essex firearms officers have made 121 arrests.
Professionalism and teamwork
Mr Harrington added:
“What I think is really important is knowing that 326 of those deployments were spontaneous – so officers did not know they were going to happen. That shows the level of constant readiness they must be at while they are on duty. “In Essex, officers haven’t fired a shot in anger since 2015 – they fire many in training because that which is what makes them so professional - but, operationally, the trigger has not had to be pulled here in eight years. “That’s because when they arrive at an incident, their professionalism and teamwork deals with even the most serious, often extraordinarily quickly. “I think many people will see computer games and blockbusters where there’s lots of shouting, it’s chaotic, there’s screaming and it’s dramatic, but these officers are a group of professionals who are calm, calculated and highly trained; it’s not Grant Theft Auto, it’s clinical, professional precision with which they arrest criminals who are among the most violent and most horrible. They do it safely and to protect the people of Essex. “They make good decisions, and they do that as they’re going towards danger when many of us would be going the other direction. They do it knowing they will be scrutinised – and they welcome that scrutiny and accountability – we police with the consent of the public. “They also know that those decisions will very often be scrutinised over days, weeks, months and years which will of course have an impact on them and on their families – but they still step forward as volunteers to do that job. “Neither the officer not their families will feel they can have a public voice and that’s why I’m speaking up for them. That’s my job but it’s also the right thing to do. “I’m really proud of the work that they do, and I think the people of Essex should be as well.”
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