THERE were more police operations involving firearms in West Mercia last year, new figures show.

Figures from the Home Office show armed police officers were deployed 216 times by West Mercia Police in the year to March.

This was an increase of 10% from the year before, when there were 196 firearms operations.

Across England and Wales, the number of police firearms operations stayed largely the same, with 18,259 in the year to March, and 18,245 the year before.

However, it represented a drop compared to the year leading up to the coronavirus pandemic, when there were 19,393 operations.

Dr Liam O'Shea, a senior research fellow at the Royal United Services Institute think tank, said that officers remain unlikely to actually fire their weapons.

“The rate of police officers discharging a firearm remains low, particularly when compared to countries such as the United States.”

Armed officers intentionally fired a weapon just four times nationally last year – and there has been just one year in the last decade where this number reached double figures.

Across the West Midlands, there were 3,638 firearms operations in 2021-22, carried out by 461 weapons-trained officers.

The two largest police forces, the Met and West Midlands, accounted for a third of all operations between them.