Pressure for officers to recall split-second decisions is making job untenable for officers, it has been claimed.
The pressure on firearms officers who are compelled to recall split-second decisions during dynamic incidents years after they happen is making it â€œalmost impossible for them to operateâ€, the head of the Police Firearms Officers Association (PFOA) has said.
Chief Executive Mark Williams has said there needs to be more scientific research around how and why people make decisions in dynamic incidents to understand the complex process officersâ€™ face as part of their job.
In an interview with PoliceOracle.com Mr Williams questioned whether younger officers would want enter the specialist field if they face the prospect of being prosecuted for opening fire.
His comments came after it was confirmed that the firearms officer involved in the Azelle Rodney death had lost his High Court bid to challenge an inquiry that concluded Mr Rodney was unlawfully killed.
The inquiry panel found that there was â€œno lawful justificationâ€ for the officer, known only as E7, to have shot Mr Rodney six times in Edgware in 2005.
E7 was seeking permission for a judicial review over the findings.
Mr Williams said: â€œThese officers are faced with a split-second decision which could result in a life-changing event. The decision-making process is highly complex and these officers have to act in a matter of seconds.
â€œThe bar has been raised to such a high level that it is almost at the point where it is impossible for them to operate.
â€œLawyers concentrate on recalling the minutiae of what they were doing in the split second before and after the event. It is so difficult to recall things absolutely correctly and it puts unprecedented pressure on them.
â€œAt the time they are not worried about where they were standing or where their arm is positioned â€“ they are worried about surviving the confrontation. They are not super human.â€
Mr Williams warned that the high-profile cases of Azelle Rodney and Mark Duggan would have a ripple effect on firearms officers across the country and could put people off entering the specialist area.
He said it was important that the public had a greater understanding of the difficulties faced by firearms officer and said the PFOA had a key role in providing that education.
Mr Williams added: â€œFirearms officers donâ€™t go out to shoot, they are out doing their job, are confronted with a situation and take the action they feel is necessary.â€
Speaking about E7, he said: â€œThe policing family has to stick together and support him. We will all work together.
â€œThe PFOA will work to do everything we can do to support these officers.â€
Intense scrutiny â€˜making firearms an impossible jobâ€™