Armed police out in force for Christmas in the North East

Armed police on the beat at the Tall Ships in the summer.
Armed police on the beat at the Tall Ships in the summer.
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Police are warning shoppers not to be alarmed at the sight of armed police on patrol in high streets in the region over Christmas.

Northumbria Police is stepping up numbers of armed officers on patrol after receiving Home Office funding as part of a the "National Armed Uplift Programme".

In November the force revealed the number of authorised firearms officers (AFOs) if had would increase by more than 50 per cent.

Assistant Chief Constable Darren Best said: "It is important to stress that this is not as a result of any specific intelligence that this region is going to be targeted for any kind of attack.

“Our armed officers are there to reassure members of the public that we are in a position to respond to any incident that does occur.

“They are regular police officers and them being on patrol will also deter other criminals including shoplifters and pick-pockets.

He added: “Being an AFO requires a huge amount of training and we are very proud of the officers who have taken up this role in Northumbria."

The force claim a" highly visible armed presence was welcomed by the public" at events including the Sunderland Air Show, Tall Ships and Great North Run.

They have also been visible at transport hubs including Newcastle International Airport, Newcastle Central Station and the Port of Tyne.

Now Northumbria Police has confirmed armed patrols will also be visible in high footfall areas in the region including busy high streets and, in the near future, some of the region’s shopping centres.

Assistant Chief Constable “Their presence at events across the summer was very well received. Our AFOs’ are very happy to stop and speak to members of the public to explain what they are doing and listen to any concerns.

“Our priority will always be to keep those people living and working in the North East feel safe."