Britain unveiled its new hi-tech ‘Robocop’ anti-terror police at Wembley during the England vs France football match.
Armed to the teeth and sporting military fatigues and combat helmets the elite Scotland Yard squad arrived in huge armoured vehicles to throw a ring of steel around Wembley stadium.
The heavily armed officers will raise fears of a move toward an increasingly paramilitary-style of law enforcement and of opening a gap between police and public, but police chiefs insist that they must counter increasingly highly trained attackers
The Mail Online reports:
The marksmen were also toting their new lightweight, semi-automatic SIG 516 rifle.
The 130-strong unit has been developing new tactics with UK special forces, including abseiling from helicopters and tackling rampaging gunmen.
They have been trained to shoot for the head instead of the usual target, the chest.
They came out of the shadows in the wake of the massacre of 129 people in Paris on Friday.
The heightened terror threat was confirmed last night when another friendly – between Germany and the Netherlands – was called off very late because of a ‘concrete’ bomb threat.
No risks were taken because three of the seven Paris suicide bombers had targeted a fixture at the Stade de France between France and Germany.
Last night’s match began with English and French fans uniting to sing France’s national anthem, La Marseillaise.
One expert described the counter-terrorism officers at Wembley as ‘effectively SAS officers in police uniform’.
Amid some of the tightest security ever seen at a sporting fixture, they took up key positions around the ground.
Many of the officers chose to cover their faces because they sometimes work undercover.
Their new weapon was selected to boost the power of police to respond to armed threats with increased accuracy while allowing them to move in confined spaces.
Their distinctive Jankel vans were last seen on the streets of the capital during the 2011 riots.
The huge US trucks are effectively armoured vehicles, with huge amounts of space for officers and equipment.
Commenting on their weapons, firearms expert Mike Yardley said: ‘I have not seen these on the streets of London before. It is a carbine [light] version of a military assault rifle.
‘It could be used to engage targets up to 100 metres away and is highly accurate. It is an ideal weapon for the Met.’
Another expert added: ‘These officers work hand in glove with special forces, training with them week in, week out.
‘The goal is for them to work side by side, sharing weapons, ammunition and tactics to defeat our most dangerous threats.’
There is concern that there are not enough firearms officers to counter a similar threat to Paris and they that could be outgunned by militants with battlefield weapons.
But senior officers say they are confident their officers can handle any threat, including a gang of marauding suicide bombers armed with AK-47s.
This summer they held an exercise in which assault rifle-wielding gunmen attacked a Tube station and took dozens of people hostage.
It demonstrated a new stage in British policing tactics in which officers abandoned ‘contain and negotiate’ in favour of an aggressive attack.
Officers were seen using ballistic shields of the kind used in Paris to directly confront the gunmen within minutes.
The photographs of heavily-armed officers are far removed from the traditional Dixon of Dock Green image of the British bobby.
And they will raise fears of a move toward an increasingly paramilitary-style of law enforcement – and of opening a gap between police and public.
But police chiefs insist that they must counter increasingly highly trained attackers who care little for anyone’s life, including their own.
In America, there has been controversy over the sale of surplus army equipment to police forces, including tanks, armoured cars and heavy weaponry.