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Mrs. Dorries: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what assessment has been made of the impact of the proposed restructuring of police forces on the provision of (a) armed response units and (b) specialist firearms officers teams; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Byrne: The assessment found that the resources providing the armed response function were required to be dual-function, providing other services such as roads policing. Clearly, this caused difficulties in trying to respond to simultaneous incidents. In addition, many smaller forces did not provide their own (expensive) specialist firearms services but looked to neighbouring forces to assist them as and when incidents occurred, relying on goodwill and building in a delay to what is often an urgent requirement.
The impact of restructuring will be that new forces will have sufficient resilience to provide armed response units dedicated solely to this function. This will allow them to gain greater skills and experience and have sufficient capacity to focus on not just responding to firearms incidents but also preventative work. Forces will be of sufficient size to allow them to develop their own dedicated, specialist firearms services, improving their training, expertise and experience of incidents as well as negating their reliance upon others for those services.
Mrs. Dorries: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many training courses have been provided by Bedfordshire police in (a) initial firearms, (b) armed response vehicles, (c) specialist firearms officers, (d) national firearms instructors, (e) tactical refreshers for authorised firearms officers and (f) firearms incident command training; and if he will make a statement. 
Mrs. Dorries: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what representations he has received on the deployment of (a) armed response units and (b) specialist firearms officers in Bedfordshire; and if he will make a statement. 
Mrs. Dorries: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many people were employed in (a) armed response units and (b) specialist firearms officers teams in each police force in each year since 1997; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Byrne: The number of Authorised Firearms Officers in each force in England and Wales since 1996-97 is shown in the table. We do not hold information on whether these officers are in armed response units or specialist firearms officers teams.
|Number of authorised firearms officers (AFOs)|
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