The Commissioner, Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe and the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan have today announced the start of Operation Hercules in which additional firearms officers will be deployed in visible roles in the capital.
Hercules is part of the Met’s commitment to delivering extra armed officers to protect London against the threat of terrorism. The Mayor has welcomed the Commissioner’s increase of 600 additional firearms officers to protect London against any attack. The first are now fully trained and operationally ready.
The public will see more armed officers, working alongside their neighbourhood and specialist colleagues, on proactive operations and targeted patrols, both on foot and in vehicles, across London.
Commissioner, Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe, said:
“Anyone who’s been following events in Europe over the past few weeks will understand why we want to show our determination to protect the public. We are deadly serious about the protection that we are offering the people of London and we will never be complacent.
“That’s why I’m increasing the visibility and the number of armed officers on London’s streets, and demonstrating some of the range of tactics we already have to protect the public from all manner of threats.
“I want the public to know that we have substantial resources and a range of tactics that we can call on to protect them.
“The reality of having to deal with armed and deadly attackers is that you need firearms officers who will use force to stop those attackers in their aim. Our firearms officers are the ones who will run towards the danger. They are our heroes.
“Despite the fact they are carrying guns they are still police officers and I want the public to approach and talk to them, they are out on our streets to reassure and help the public.
“Equally important in how we protect our capital is the relationship that our mainly unarmed officers have built with communities over many years. Our communities are a vital source of information and if you have fears or concerns then we want to know.”
The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said: “The safety and security of all Londoners is my first priority, and our police and security services are working incredibly hard every day on our behalf.
“The threat level here in London has not changed, but it does remain at severe and especially in light of recent deadly attacks in Europe it is important we are prepared should the unthinkable happen.
“We will see more armed officers on our streets, but there is no reason to be alarmed. All of our police officers are playing their part and working closely with all of our communities to prevent the possibility of an attack.
“That is why we are returning to real neighbourhood policing with a second dedicated PC in every London ward by the end of next year, to be the eyes and ears of our security services and build trust in our communities.
“Our armed response teams do a very difficult job. They put their own lives at risk every day and are at the front line of protection for Londoners across our city.”
The Met will continue to do everything possible to protect the capital not just through the use of armed officers but the ongoing work by specialist detectives in the counter terrorism command; working with partner agencies and gathering community intelligence.
The operation is not based on any specific intelligence but is a long term response to best use the increasing number of armed officers the Met has to make London as hostile an environment as possible for any would-be attacker. That means the locations, types of tactics and the numbers of officers deployed at once will continually change to be most effective and avoid predictability.