A hand-picked team from CO19, the Metropolitan Police's elite firearms unit, will walk the beat in gun crime hotspots where armed gangs have turned entire estates into "no go" zones.
Local politicians and anti-gun campaigners have reacted with anger at the news that the officers will carry Heckler & Koch MP5 submachine guns – capable of firing up to 800 rounds-per-minute – and Glock semi-automatic pistols.
CO19 currently provides armed support in volatile situations like sieges and terrorist attacks, with its officers on constant call in vehicles around London.
But this is the first time that armed officers will be sent on permanent foot patrol anywhere in the country outside Northern Ireland.
"Historically, CO19 was only called out when someone rang up to report a gun crime," said Inspector Derek Carroll, head of the new unit.
"But a lot of streets in London have young people in postcode gangs, aged 14 and upwards, and a lot of communities feel that they are controlling areas of estates.
"We are looking at gangs that have access to firearms and will be robust in dealing with them and disrupting and deterring them."
Gun-related crime is on the increase in London with 1,736 gun crimes reported in London between April and September this year – up 17 per cent on 2008.
The problem of turf violence between drugs gangs was highlighted earlier this month with a spate of shootings in north London linked to two Turkish gangs, the Tottenham Boys and the Bombacilar.
ilap, When the Sandy Hook shootings happened my first knee jerk reaction was to side with the anti gun crowd. I didn't take me long to realize this was not the correct reaction.
I cited evidence stating that Europe had lower gun related deaths, etc. I now think Europe will begin to see more gun violence because of racial and political tensions on the rise. The data on Europe is backward looking.
Very interesting piece ilap. Sounds kind of like Mexico.
The Rodney King riots here demonstrated why the public does need assault rifles. The Korean shops owners were attacked by the black people in the neighborhood. Without weapons, the Korean's would have been completely helpless.
Sounds like Englanders would benefit from open gun laws. These gangs will just end up taking over if they aren't scared. Why should they be scared? The citizens aren't armed.