Who are CTSFOs
Counter Terrorist Specialist Firearms Officers
CTSFOs are a proactive element of SCO19. Their role includes counter terrorism and hostage rescue. CTSFO teams provide firearms support to other Met specialist units and operate in both an overt and covert role. CTSFO teams are on constant standby to respond to a terrorist or major crime incident UK wide.
CTSFOs are organized into 6 CTSFO Inspectors, an Operational Senior Manager and 7 teams. Each team consists of 1 Sergeant leading 15 Constables.
CTSFO units may be called to storm buildings, planes, buses, trains and boats, both docked and underway. These operations require that CTSFOs receive a higher level of training than the TST (Tactical Support Teams) Like TST Officers, CTSFOs must have served as ARV (Armed Response Vehicle) Officers before going through their own extensive selection and training process.
The CTSFO standard is the highest Authorised Firearms Officer level in the National Police Firearms Training Curriculum (NPFTC) and was established by the Metropolitan Police Service in the lead up to the 2012 Summer Olympics held in London.
What does CTSFO do?
A Counter Terrorist Specialist Firearms Officer (CTSFO) is a United Kingdom police firearms officer. A national capability to respond to terrorist incidents such as marauding terrorist firearms attacks through collaboration of police forces who maintain CTSFO teams was established known as the CTSFO Network.
The exact weapons used by CTSFO are restricted under the Section 31(1)(a)(b) - Law Enforcement Section 24(1) - National Security
Disclosure of this information would reveal their tactical capability, which in turn would be likely to compromise the National Security of the UK.
But it is known that AFOs (Authorised Firearms Officers) have been trained on the following weapon systems:
- Pistol - Glock 17
- MP5 Carbine.
- H&K G36 Carbine.
- Sig Sauer SG516.
- MCX Carbine.
- H&K G3 Rifle.
- Shotgun - Benelli M3 Super 90.
- X26 Taser.
Do we need armed police?
With the increasing terrorist threats to our capital and terror attacks in Manchester and in recognition of the heightened threat since the Islamic State urged its followers to inflict murder in their own countries using whatever means possible, the need for armed officers to be available to respond rapidly has been illustrated by the incidents at Westminster and London Bridge in particular, as well as by attacks overseas in Barcelona and other countries in recent years.
What are the requirements to become a CTSFO?
To become a CTSFO the applicant must already be an Authorised Firearms Officer (AFO) and be trained to the College of Policing ARV Role Profile. Eligibility for selection beyond being an ARV officer may have regional variations but within the MPS a candidate will have been recommended by their supervisors, undertake a two-day assessment of existing tactical/policing skills and meet shooting and physical testing standards. If the candidate is successful at this stage they will placed on the CTSFO courses where they will hone existing and learn new tactics to begin their transition to their new operational role.
There is no doubt that it takes a special kind of police officer to do the job of a CTSFO, high stress levels, physically demanding and some serious decisions with life changing consequences:
For those that do, we thank you for facing violence on our behalf.