Armed officers could be paid more than beat bobbies because of their extra responsibilities, the policing minister has suggested.
Chris Philp said there was “possibly” a case for paying armed officers more because of the “extraordinary danger” they could face in the course of their duties.
Police who carry guns currently do it on a voluntary basis, with no extra pay despite the advanced training and risk involved.
His comments follow the announcement of a Home Office review into whether the current system prevents or inhibits armed officers from protecting the public. Scores of officers refused to carry their guns after a colleague was charged with the murder of Chris Kaba.
Asked if there was an argument for weapons-trained police to earn more, Mr Philp told LBC on Tuesday: “Yeah possibly there is.
“Chief constables deal with operational measures like who gets trained and who gets given a firearm ticket but they do put themselves in extraordinary danger.”
He said the review would investigate whether the current law was “too heavy on the backs” of firearms officers which might stop them from doing their job to protect the public.
In an open letter to the Home Secretary Suella Braverman published on Sunday, Metropolitan Police Commissioner Sir Mark Rowley suggested legal changes over the way self-defence is interpreted in police misconduct cases.
‘We need to be on their side’
The change would aim to protect them if they honestly believed they were under threat but their actions were subsequently deemed to be unreasonable.
He also put forward the introduction of a criminal standard of proof for unlawful killing in inquests and inquiries, along with changes to the threshold at which the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) can launch an investigation.
Sir Mark said: “There is a concern on the part of firearms officers that even if they stick to the tactics and training they have been given, they will face years of protracted legal proceedings which impact on their personal wellbeing and that of their family. While previous reviews have been announced, they have not delivered change.”
Safeguards to be considered under the Home Office review include whether there should be time limits for criminal and civil investigations into officers involved in shootings and stricter guidelines, preventing an officer from being prosecuted if they have complied with training.
Mr Philp said: “We need to make sure the law is on their side when the police do what is necessary to protect us, the public.
“It wouldn’t be a good thing if the police feel they can’t do what is necessary to protect the public because the law is too heavy on their back, and that is what the review is designed to achieve.
“Of course, if there is misconduct that needs to be dealt with but we need to make sure it is not excessive and the police officers don’t feel they are being stopped from doing their job protecting the public. They’re on our side, we need to be on their side as well,” Mr Philp said.
Cover had to be drafted in from neighbouring forces after around 100 of the Met’s 2,595 marksmen refused to perform their armed roles.
The military also agreed to help, but soldiers do not have the authority to be used for routine policing and can only be used in the case of a terrorist attack or for guarding certain locations such as nuclear sites.
A Metropolitan Police spokesman said: “On Saturday, the Ministry of Defence agreed to provide the Met with counter-terrorism support as a contingency option.
“As of lunchtime on Monday, the number of officers who had returned to armed duties was sufficient for us to no longer require external assistance to meet our counter-terrorism responsibilities.”
The force has taken a conciliatory tone since the officers downed tools, saying bosses were working to understand their “genuinely held concerns”.
On Monday the Prime Minister said armed police need clarity about the legal powers they have Sir Mark Rowley called for greater legal protection for officers.