HC Deb 12 February 1997 vol 290 c202W
Mr. Cohen

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) if he will make a statement on the presence of an officer with a sub-machine gun in Mansell street, Whitechapel, at midnight on 3 February; [14834]

(2) if he will make a statement on the arming of police officers with sub-machine guns in London. [14835]

Mr. Maclean

I understand that an officer armed with a carbine was carrying out counter-terrorist duties in the Mansell street area. The officer was part of a patrol exercising powers under section 13A of the Prevention of Terrorism (Temporary Provisions) Act 1989 to stop and search vehicles and their occupants for articles which could be used for terrorist purposes. The weapon was not a sub-machine gun, but a carbine specially adapted to fire only one shot at a time. Such carbines are one of a number of weapons available for general issue to members of the City of London police tactical firearms group.

The City of London police have no automatic carbines. The Metropolitan police have a small number of automatic carbines. These are to be issued only under the most stringent conditions and in the most exceptional circumstances. It would not be in the interests of security for me to discuss any further details about the circumstances or conditions under which these weapons might be deployed.