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Last Updated: Thursday, 8 January, 2004, 09:41 GMT
Police double armed response cars
Armed police
The number of armed response vehicles will rise to six
The chief constable of Thames Valley Police has vowed to double the number of armed response vehicles by the end of the year.

The move by Chief Constable Peter Neyroud comes after an inquest into the death of 27-year-old Jason Gifford, who was shot by a police marksman.

Mr Gifford, from Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire, was shot in June 2003 as he held his wife hostage using a three-foot samurai sword and replica pistol.

Speaking after the inquest returned a so-called "suicide by police" verdict, Mr Neyroud said: "There are lessons from this, as there are from every such case, and I have taken a very personal interest having been responsible for police use of firearms nationally before coming to the Thames Valley two years ago.

"We could have got armed response vehicles to the scene faster and I am currently doubling the number of these vehicles to meet the increased threat."

UK's gun problem

Police chiefs say the move to increase the number of armed units has been made necessary by the UK's growing gun crime problem.

They are now to bring the force's number of armed response and armed support vehicles to six.

They will be based around the Thames Valley and should be on the streets by the end of 2004.

The increase was one of the first changes promised by Mr Neyroud when he came to the force two years ago and had already been included in this year's budget.

The death of Mr Gifford was the first fatal shooting involving the force.

Thames Valley Police spokesman said that stood "as a testament to the restraint and professionalism of our firearms officers and commanders".

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