Devon & Cornwall Police has a minimum of four Armed Response Vehicles (ARVs) on patrol at all times.
These vehicles are ready to respond to spontaneous incidents. Incidents often aren’t something that requires the use of firearms.
Rather than being stationary on standby at a police station, the ARVs are constantly on the move and may be the nearest police resource that can be called on to assist with anything from a shoplifter to reports of a weapon.
ARV firearms officers have additional training to take on a role that can expose them to a wide range of situations, which may call on them to use any tactic which resolves a conflict or problem, from negotiation skills to the use of firearms.
Over and above their police training they have undergone a ten week firearms course, four week advanced driving course and four weeks of skills training in traffic law. Currently there are 94 PCs and 15 sergeants who are trained to crew an ARV.
If armed intervention is required for an unplanned operation, a firearms commander has the authority to task the ARV to attend.
The contents of each ARV, as well as its crew, makes it different from most police vehicles. Each ARV carries two Heckler & Koch G36 carbines, a rifle, a shotgun and a device which delivers attenuating energy projectiles or AEPs, otherwise known as baton rounds or more colloquially plastic bullets.
ARV officers also have additional medical training and carry with them in the ARV an extended medical pack and a defibrillator.
These can be used to treat firearms injuries but also equally at the roadside in the event of a road traffic collision (RTC) or if a member of the public is suffering a suspected heart attack.
ARVs can often be the first police resource to arrive at the scene of an RTC and consequently also carry traffic cones and road signs, as well as a standard broom and shovel to remove debris from the road!