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Sunday, 11 December 2016
Northumbria Police criticised over 'unnecessary' armed police presence in front of children.
The force moved to reassure people not to be concerned by the sight of gun-carrying cops in Newcastle city centre.
Armed police on patrol in Newcastle.
Families have been left shocked and alarmed at the sight of armed police patrolling city centre streets.
Coppers armed with guns were patrolling Newcastle’s key shopping areas, including the festive market around Monument, on Saturday.
While Northumbria Police moved to reassure people not to be concerned by the sight of officers carrying weapons, many said the sight of large guns made them uncomfortable.
Commenting on the force’s Facebook post, Nic King said: “I don’t want to see guns the size of my child when Christmas shopping and these images have put me off going into Newcastle city centre.
“I understand there is no more threat to our safety and you are trying to reassure us, however I simply don’t want to see armed police in my city.”
Mum Tina Argent wrote that her son was left sobbing and upset after seeing the police with guns, while Kirsten Luckins commented: “Your armed officers make me feel less safe, not more.
“What would you do if there was an incident, shoot down Northumberland Street? Ridiculous. This is entirely unnecessary, inappropriate and a grotesque normalisation of extreme measures.”
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Not everyone was alarmed, with many others saying they felt reassured by the armed presence on the streets.
Suzanne Charlton write: “I think it’s fantastic and exactly what we need in this day and age in my opinion all police should be armed,” while Maureen Raeburn said: “I for one am pleased there out on the streets, they do a good job and I definitely feel safer with them there.”
The force told people not to be alarmed by the sight of Firearms Support Unit (FSU) officers in Newcastle city centre and said: “We understand people may be concerned to see armed officers but they are not there because of any specific threat or intelligence that something is going to happen.”
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NORTHUMBRIA POLICE INCREASING ITS FIREARMS OFFICERS BY 50%
Encouraging the public to approach armed police in the street, the force added that cops would still be performing the roles of a normal patrol officer.
The forces’s Facebook post continued: “It is a really busy time of year and public safety and public confidence is our absolute priority.
“We would encourage people to approach the officers if they see them out and about - they do what they do because they want to keep you safe.”
It comes after Northumbria Police announced it would be increasing the number of firearms officers by 50% following Home Office plans to boost the number of armed cops across the UK.