Scotland Yard today doubled the number of routine armed patrols in London to counter the threat of a Paris-style terrorist firearms attack.
The Met will also boost to 400 strong a specialist squad of firearms officers trained to storm buildings occupied by gun-wielding fanatics.
Scotland Yard chief Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe announced this morning that he was increasing the total number of trained marksmen by 600.
The £25 million move will bring the total number of armed police officers in London to around 2,800.
The announcement came as suicide bombers and gunmen killed at least seven people in a marauding terror attack on the Indonesian capital of Jakarta today.
There were reports of gunmen on motorbikes throwing grenades with explosions at a Starbucks cafe and United Nations offices in the city.
Today Sir Bernard said he was doubling the number of armed response vehicles on patrol in the capital to improve the force’s ability to respond quickly to a firearms terror attack.
In a statement Sir Bernard said: “In the days following Paris I asked my firearms team to increase the number of armed response vehicles available on our streets, which we did. Now I have decided that we take the steps to increase these numbers on a permanent basis.
“To do so, the Met will now start putting plans in place to raise the number of armed officers that we have by 600. This increase will more than double the number of armed response vehicles on our streets and grow a highly trained specialist part of our capability.
“This is because we know that the threat we currently face is likely to be a spontaneous attack that requires a fast response to deal with it.
“This increase has started already and every day we are getting stronger. It will be an expensive option, but is vital to keeping us safe.”
He added: “My firearms officers are our heroes – we expect them to run towards a terrorist attack and take action to confront and stop that threat.”
In a recent training exercise police revealed that specialist firearms officers were now trained to ignore injured victims but to “go forward” and tackled gun-wielding terrorists.
Speaking on LBC radio today Sir Bernard said: “We are going to double the number of armed response vehicles that patrol in London. These are the first phase of our response whether it is an armed bank robbery or a terror attack.”
In addition a task force of specialist officers would be increased to make it up to 400-strong and be the “second phase” of officers to confront armed attackers.
He refused to disclose the number of armed response – or Trojan units – on patrol in London.
Trained firearms officers are all volunteers and force bosses are now holding a recruitment drive to fill the new posts from existing officers in the Met.
Questions were raised over morale among marksmen in the wake of the shooting of 28-year-old Jermaine Blake in north London last month.
Police called for greater legal protection for officers who kill suspects, particularly in light of new counter-terrorism tactics which will see them stepping over casualties to tackle marauding gunmen head on.
The number of officers trained to carry guns in London has fallen in recent years to around 2,200.
Mayor Boris Johnson said: “Keeping Londoners safe is my number one priority, and while this city remains one of the safest in the world, the terrible events in Paris last year remind us that we have to be prepared to meet any potential terrorist threat.
“Increasing our armed response capabilities, alongside additional training and support is absolutely essential, and we welcome the Commissioner’s announcement today and the funds being made available by the Home Office to support it.
“As a leading world city, London faces unique challenges, and a growing population and it is only right that we ensure the proper level of police protection so we can continue to keep our city safe.”
Armed response vehicles routinely patrol London’s high gun crime boroughs and are manned by three specialist police marksmen armed with Glock pistols and Heckler & Koch carbines.
Ken Marsh, chairman of the Met Police Federation, said the increase in armed officers gave the Met the resilience in needed to counter a terror attack.
He added: “The number of armed officers is still less than 10 per cent of the force so it is nonsense to say we will all be armed. These are specialist officers who have to meet a set of standards.”