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Conference 2015 | "Frontline policing is at the forefront of terrorism fight"

Effective neighbourhood policing is more important than ever in tackling terrorism, the Police Federation of England and Wales conference has heard.

Assistant Chief Constable Mark Rowley, the national lead on counterterrorism, said that as criminals moved from gangs to terrorism, local officers working with communities to spot potential risks was "critical". He told delegates: "Frontline policing is at the forefront of our fights."

He added: "It is critical. Community intelligence identifies attack planners and safeguards the vulnerable.

"More than ever we are dependent on the success of local policing. The success of neighbourhood policing in working with communities and spotting those risks is more essential than ever.

"All officers are critical in the fight against terrorism and the public confidence you command is increasingly critical.

"The professionalism and bravery of officers must continue. It is a fantastic illustration of your determination to protect the public and maintain the greatest traditions of our service."

AC Rowley added that routinely arming officers will not make them safer, and said turning the service into an armed paramilitary-style force would undermine public trust in the police.

He announced that officers across the UK are to be given new training on their personal security in the light of the terrorist threat, which currently stands at severe.

A new campaign co-ordinated by the National Police Chiefs' Council Counter Terror Command will be launched in the next few weeks. The campaign will cover security at work, personal security and the safety of police buildings.

The Police Federation also launched a safety campaign last month, urging officers to vary their commutes to work and change their daily routine.

AC Rowley said: "The balance of protecting officers is really difficult. We're not routinely armed but how do we look after our officers?

"I think the balance at the moment is quite right, and every officer going out armed with a Taser is not the right approach."

AC Rowley was challenged by a member of the audience who claimed that the unarmed British bobby "sticks out like a sore thumb" and officers' lives are undervalued.

The officer, from West Midlands police, said: "Our lives are put down the pecking order when it comes to the British model of policing and I don't think that's right."

AC Rowley described the new counterterrorism guidelines for officers as "good practical security advice about how not to make yourself an easy target".

He added: "We all recognise the terrorist threat but it is also our duty to get the balance right.

"We need to ensure officers are as safe as possible but we need to find way to do that without overreacting. If we become a paramilitary force the terrorists would have won and nobody wants that."


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