The Ministry of Defence has put troops on standby to support the Metropolitan Police after armed officers turned in their weapons.
Dozens of armed police officers on the force have handed in their permits to carry weapons, after a colleague was charged with the murder of Chris Kaba, an unarmed 24-year-old construction worker. More than 100 of the force’s 2,500 armed police have "stepped back" from armed duties, according to the BBC.
The MoD has confirmed it has accepted a request to “provide routine counterterrorism contingency support to the Metropolitan Police, should it be needed”.
Soldiers can stand in for public servants that submit a Military Aid to the Civil Authorities request – the same mechanism that was used to prop up the Border Force and ambulance services during last winter’s wave of public and civil service strikes.
A Met Police spokesperson said armed forces personnel “will not be used in a routine policing capacity” and that the need for support will be kept “under constant review”.
"This is a contingency option that would only be used in specific circumstances and where an appropriate policing response was not available,” they said.
Home secretary Suella Braverman has meanwhile expressed support for officers on “reflective leave” and announced a review into armed policing.
“Officers risking their lives to keep us safe have my full backing and I will do everything in my power to support them," the home secretary said.
"That’s why I have launched a review to ensure they have the confidence to do their jobs while protecting us all."
"In the interest of public safety, they have to make split-second decisions under extraordinary pressures,” she added.
An officer appeared in court last week over the suspected murder of Kaba, who was shot through a car windscreen in Streatham Hill in September 2022. He died the next day in hospital.
It later emerged that police had linked the car he had been driving, which did not belong to him, to a gun incident the day before.
Kaba's death sparked an investigation by the Independent Office for Police Conduct, along with protests. His parents and other community members pushed for the IOPC investigation to conclude quickly and for "justice" for his death.
Last week, the Crown Prosecution Service said a firearms officer, known as NX121, had been charged in connection with Kaba’s death following a review of evidence provided by the IOPC.
A Met Police spokesperson confirmed that a number of its officers had “taken the decision to step back from armed duties”.
“Many are worried about how the decision impacts on them, on their colleagues and on their families,” they said.
"They are concerned that it signals a shift in the way the decisions they take in the most challenging circumstances will be judged.”
The force said it is working to support the officers “and to fully understand the genuinely held concerns that they have”.