Authorized Firearms Officer


January 18, 2022

Authorized firearms officers (AFOs) are British police officers who are authorized and specially trained in carrying and using firearms. The reason its existence is special is that it is not common for police officers to carry firearms on a daily basis in the United Kingdom (even if they carry them, they are about the size of a taser gun). Police officers who carry firearms on a daily basis in the United Kingdom are limited to the Northern Ireland Police Department, the Department of Defense Police, the Civil Nuclear Facility Security Corps, the Belfast Port Police, and the Belfast International Airport Security Corps. During the 2019-2020 fiscal year, there were 19,372 police activities permitted to deploy firearms throughout England and Wales, mobilizing 6,518 armed police officers (equivalent to 4.9% of 132,467 in the country). rice field. After the terrorist attacks in Paris in November 2015, it was decided to significantly increase the number of armed police officers, especially in London. Advanced AFO qualifications include Armed Response Vehicle Officer (ARVO), Specialist Firearms Officer (SFO), and Counter Terrorist Specialist Firearms Officer (CTSFO).


All UK police have an AFO selection course (details vary by unit). Like many police officers, all certified firearms officers are volunteers. In order to participate in the selection course, it is necessary to obtain the permission of the superior of the original corps in advance. In the selection course, interviews, psychological tests, physical fitness tests and physical examinations are conducted before permission is given to begin training firearms. There is no guarantee that you will be able to pass the selection, and if you do not meet the required criteria, you may be ordered to return to the original squad at any point in the selection course. After being approved, you must pass regular retraining and retesting to maintain your qualifications, and your approval may be revoked if you do not meet the required criteria. Permits to use firearms may also be temporarily or permanently suspended if there are health or physical problems.

Deployment of AFO

AFOs are deployed throughout the UK to specialized units that, due to the nature of their role, require the placement of armed police officers. For example, the Metropolitan Police Department's Diplomatic Security Division, the Ministry of Defense Police and the Civil Nuclear Constabulary. It is known that the National Crime Agency has deployed AFOs, especially armed operations units. These units rarely engage in counter-terrorism operations and mainly deal with violent and organized crime such as the trafficking of firearms.

Legal basis for using firearms

The use of firearms by police is enacted (such as the Police and Criminal Evidence Act of 1984 and the Human Rights Act of 1998) and the policies of government agencies (Ministry of Interior's Code of Practice on the use of firearms and non-lethal weapons by police). It is disciplined by the Police use of Firearms and Less Lethal Weapons, the Manual of Guidance on Police Use of Firearms by the British Association of Police Chiefs (ACPO), and the Common Law. AFOs may carry firearms only if approved by the "appropriate approval officer". The "appropriate approval officer" must be inspector or higher. When working at airports and nuclear facilities, guarding missions, and deploying on board armored vehicles, "permanent authority" to possess a pistol is granted. Northern Ireland police officers, regardless of whether they are on duty or off duty.

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