He added: “That’s why I’ve launched a review to ensure they have the confidence to do their jobs while protecting us all.”
Sir Mark welcomed the review and called for changes to the way officers are treated by the justice system.
He said armed Metropolitan Police officers responded to about 4,000 incidents each year, but only fired their weapons on average twice, representing less than 0.05 per cent.
In an open letter, he said: “Armed officers know they need to justify their actions, especially when deadly force is used.
“They are very well trained and an intrinsic part of their training reinforces the fact that shots can only be fired if absolutely necessary to save lives.
“But there is concern on the part of firearms officers that even if they stick to the tactics and training they have been given, they will face years of protracted legal proceedings that will impact their personal well-being and that of their family.
He called for more clarity in the law about when officers can defend themselves and a quicker resolution of investigations and prosecutions.
Firearms officers are highly trained, making it difficult to replace them on short notice.
They face inspections twice a year, but receive no extra pay for volunteering to carry a gun.
Need for “sufficient legal protection”
In his letter, Sir Mark said he was proud of the “policing by consent” model in the UK and that the public trusted “officers who are willing to put themselves at risk every day to protect the public from dangerous criminals”. including terrorists.”
He added: “Officers need sufficient legal protection to enable them to do their jobs and keep the public safe, and confidence that it will be applied consistently and without fear or favour.”
One area of the Metropolitan Police that has been significantly affected is the armed response vehicle units which contain three officers with firearms and patrol the capital 24 hours a day, providing rapid responses in the event of a major incident.
Sources told The Telegraph the unit was severely reduced over the weekend, with officers from neighboring forces called in to provide cover.
A Ministry of Defense spokesperson said: “We have accepted a request for Military Assistance to the Home Office Civil Authorities to provide routine counter-terrorism contingency support to the Metropolitan Police, should this be required.”
Military personnel will only assist police if necessary on specific tasks and will not have arrest powers. They are not expected to be used to perform the routine tasks of unarmed officers.
Government departments have previously asked soldiers to help with the government’s Covid task force and to help out when large parts of the country have been flooded.
In December last year, military personnel and civil servants replaced 1,000 Border Force officers at major airports, including Gatwick and Heathrow, who were on strike over pay. Like the police, the military cannot strike.
There was a significant backlash from the Armed Forces when they were asked to give up Christmas 2022 to cover for striking NHS workers.