CO19 (sO19) - Training
CO19 training takes place in a special facility near Gravesend in Kent. All trainees must achieve a minimum of 90% accuracy with firearms. As CO19 are a police force rather than military one, the emphasis in training is always on the minimal use of force and the legal implications of every act. As with other UK armed police forces, CO19 adhere to rules of engagement based on guidelines from the Association of Chief Police Officers (Acpo). These specify that they:
- Must identify themselves and declare intent to fire (unless this risks serious harm).
- Should aim for the biggest target (the torso) to incapacitate and for greater accuracy.
- Should reassess the situation after each shot.
An initial 8-week course covers firearms use, entry techniques, abseiling etc. Mock ups of possible scenarios, such as planes, coaches and buildings are used to train the SFOs in methods for storming them. Use of stun grenades and tear gas are taught as well as hostage rescue and handling methods. Officers can also play out scenarios in front of large video screens which simulate real-life incidents. With the threat of Chemical and Biological attack in the capital, SFOs train to carry out operations in full protective suits and gas masks and have done so in the real-world with the arrest of suspected terrorist bomb-makers in Forest Gate, London in 2006.The Special Air Service (SAS) have reportedly provided CO19 SFO units with specialised training, including exercises.
SAS trainers denounce 'gung ho' armed police
(Times Online report)