Deputy chief constable Simon Chesterman said potential recruits were being deterred because of fears they could spend years under investigation after a decision to fire on a suspect.
After November’s terrorist gun and bomb attacks on Paris, senior security officials believe Britain needs an extra 1,500 armed officers. But because half won’t make it through rigorous training and selection, police chiefs need 3,000 volunteers to come forward.
Chesterman, the national lead for firearms, said: “We might have a challenge attracting the right number of volunteers and retaining the people we have got.” He added: “It is not a crisis but it might become one.”
A representative of firearms officers in England and Wales has warned that in the event of a determined terrorist gun attack targeting civilians such as that carried out in the French capital six months ago, significant parts of Britain would be left vulnerable.
Police chiefs are struggling to recruit enough officers willing to carry a gun to tackle a Paris-style terror attack, because they fear they will be treated as criminal suspects if they use their weapon in the line of duty, the country’s top firearms officer has warned.