Police seek more powerful guns
POLICE in South Yorkshire could soon be issued with more powerful and accurate guns.
The weapons the force wants to acquire will use smaller bullets, which travel through the air more quickly than those used by the existing 9mm Heckler and Koch guns, potentially achieving greater accuracy.
Because the guns are also more powerful they would give officers a possible advantage of overcoming the protective qualities of body armour which criminals might choose to use.
That means the force will also have to invest in changes at its outdoor shooting range in Sprotborough, Doncaster, where officers attached to its Firearms Support Group train.
At present, the main weapons available to officers in the unit – and the armed response vehicles that patrol the county around the clock – are the similar but more dated Heckler and Koch carbines and Smith and Wesson revolvers.
A review of those weapons has been carried out recently to assess their effectiveness.
Both have been in service for some time and the carbines have been regarded as so effective that target practice routines were made more difficult to take account of their ease of use.
However, an investigation suggested that the force would benefit from a change to a different version of the gun, using a 5.56mm bullet instead.
The more modern G36C weapon uses the same calibre of bullet adopted by the British Army more than a decade ago, to replace a more bulky round.
The police research suggested the Smith and Wesson handguns should be retained, however.
There has been a steep rise in the number of occasions where firearms officers have to be deployed in South Yorkshire in recent years.
Most of those are false alarms, including incidents where worried members of the public have mistaken airguns or ball-bearing guns for more dangerous firearms but there has been an increase in incidents where criminals have been willing to both carry and use weapons.
Most of those are described as “targeted” shootings by senior officers, meaning they are committed by criminals against specific adversaries.
But armed officers are despatched to all incidents where guns are reported.
If the South Yorkshire Police Authority agrees to buying the new weapons, which will cost more than £60,000 in total, when it meets today it will also mean some knock-on spending at its shooting range.
A new “ballistic canopy” will be needed at one of the ranges to take account of the new ammunition being fired.
At the same time, the force wants to make other improvements at the range, at an isolated former quarry.
That would involve installing a new double-gate entrance and boundary fencing and also the installation of a new classroom and improvement work to the driveway.
In total, those costs
are expected to add around £120,000 more to the overall bill.
South Yorkshire Police has an impeccable record on its use of firearms.
Since the force was formed in 1974 the only time anyone has been shot by officers was during an incident in Athersley, Barnsley, when officers were confronted by a man with a shotgun.
He was shot by a detective inspector, although the bullet hit his hand and caused relatively minor injuries.
That was before the formation of the current Firearms Support Group.
The ultimate aim is always to avoid police having to discharge weapons and there are now other non-lethal alternatives available, including Taser pistols which can disable the target by launching a powerful electric charge through a wire attached to a dart.
16 February 2007
UK Cops Calling for Bigger Guns