Counter-terrorism specialists are among a growing number of Met officers who have handed in their weapons in the backlash over one of their colleagues being charged with murder, The Telegraph can reveal.
Firearms teams who man crucial Armed Response Vehicles (ARVs) are refusing to work, leaving Scotland Yard bosses desperately scrabbling to maintain patrols.
The teams are often the first on the scene in a major incident such as a terror attack and were the initial responders to the London Bridge and Fishmongers’ Hall atrocities.
It is understood the Met has asked other forces for support, but armed officers from elsewhere are refusing to fill their gaps in solidarity with their London-based colleagues.
A number of Counter-Terrorist Specialist Firearms Officers (CTSFOs) are also understood to have stepped back from their duties in recent days.
While Scotland Yard has insisted it maintains a “significant firearms capability”, there is mounting concern that if the row is not resolved it could have major security implications.
The crisis began on Thursday when a Met firearms officer, known only as NX121, was charged with murdering Chris Kaba, a black man in his early 20s, who was shot dead as he was driving through south London last September.
Just hours later dozens of Met officers from SCO19, the specialist firearms command, handed in their authorisations to carry guns.
Sources said they were not only angry at the decision by the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) to charge NX121 with murder, but also with the perceived lack of support from the Commissioner and the London Mayor, Sadiq Khan, for their colleague, who is now expected to stand trial next year.
One firearms officer told The Telegraph: “I have never known so much anger among my colleagues. Things have been bad for a while but this is the straw that broke the camel’s back.
“People are being asked to go out and face danger every day. These are highly trained professionals but they have no confidence any more that they will have the backing of the Met if something goes wrong.
“Nottinghamshire, West Midlands, Essex and Greater Manchester Police have all refused to help out.”
A Scotland Yard spokesman said: “Senior officers, including the Commissioner, have been meeting with firearms officers in recent days as they reflect on the CPS decision to charge NX121 with murder.
“Many are worried about how the decision impacts on them, on their colleagues and on their families. They are concerned that it signals a shift in the way the decisions they take in the most challenging circumstances will be judged.
“A number of officers have taken the decision to step back from armed duties while they consider their position. That number has increased over the past 48 hours.
“We are in ongoing discussions with those officers to support them and to fully understand the genuinely held concerns that they have.
“The Met has a significant firearms capability and we continue to have armed officers deployed in communities across London as well as at other sites including Parliament, diplomatic premises, airports etc.
“Our priority is to keep the public safe. We are closely monitoring the situation and are exploring contingency options, should they be required.”