Tens of thousands of London police officers will be asked if they'd prefer to carry a gun while on duty in the wake of terror attacks across Europe. The Met Police Federation, which has more than 30,000 members, will launch a survey to find out if officers would be willing to carry a gun or Taser on the streets, or if the prospect of being armed would distract them from the role.
Last August, the Met said it will be deploying an additional 600 more armed police on the streets of London as part of a bid to make the capital as "hostile an environment as possible for any would-be attacker".
Outgoing Commissioner Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe said the decision to increase the number of firearm officers to 2,800 arrived as it would be "foolish" to ignore the potential threat of a major attack happening on the streets of Britain following attacks in Paris, Brussels and Nice.
The terror threat level in the UK for terrorism has been at severe for more than two years, meaning an attack is "highly likely".
"We're not an armed force, we never have been," Met Police Federation Chairman Ken Marsh said. "But the terrorism threat in London is constant and our officers must be vigilant and be able to deal swiftly with any scenarios we face.
"We are moving closer towards that by arming 600 more officers and I think it's only fair that we ask our colleagues – who go out there on a daily basis – what they want. "
If officers decide they would rather be armed in the survey, officers may have to pass more intense fitness tests in order to be issued a firearm or Taser.
Marsh added: "This is not about just giving someone a gun and saying 'Get out there', this is about the full requisite requirement of being, let's say, an SO19 officer, everything that goes with that, so there's a huge amount of work that would need to be done."
The results of the survey, which will take place throughout January, will be discussed with the commissioner and made available to the public.
A Met Police spokesperson said: "The position of the Met and the commissioner is clear: we are proud to maintain the tradition that police in this country are not routinely armed. The routine arming of the Metropolitan Police is not supported.
"About 92% of the service is unarmed and armed policing is delivered by highly-trained specialist units. There is no plan to seek to change this.
"Twice in recent years the Met has increased the number of specially-trained officers who carry Tasers, and this is kept under constant review.
"We always want to know what our officers think about issues that deal with their personal safety, as it is, and will always be, a huge priority for the MPS."