London police have increased its expenditure on weaponisation by nearly six times to about $12 million compared to the previous year as part of its anti- terrorism drive, official data revealed today. The Metropolitan Police spent 9.4 million pounds ($12 million) on guns, bullets, Tasers and smoke and stun grenades in the previous year until March compared with about 1.6 million pounds ($2 million) over the previous 12 months, according to data acquired through a freedom of information request by the ‘The Times’. The firearms budget alone rose to 5.7 million pounds ($7.3 million), nearly five times the total spent over the preceding six years. Spending on Taser stun-gun devices more than doubled last year and the outlay on ammunition, including blanks and grenades, more than tripled to 2.5 million pounds ($3.2 million). The budget hike coincides with a UK-wide drive to increase the number of armed police officers on the country’s streets to combat terrorism. Much of the money is thought to have gone on training for officers as part of a drive across the UK to recruit and train an extra 1,500 firearms officers, the newspaper reported.
“The Met is on track to meet the plan to complete an uplift of 600 firearms officers by April next year,” a Met Police spokesperson said.
The UK government’s aim is to have at least 7,000 firearms officers available, with nearly half of any new armed officers based in London.
Britain’s police are largely unarmed and officers need to volunteer to carry a gun. Five per cent of all police are armed, according to UK Home Office figures, out of a total of 125,851 officers in England and Wales. The government has been trying to increase the number of specially-trained armed officers since the November 2015 terrorist attack on Paris, which left 130 people dead.