ARU officers are trained, equipped and deployed to support district colleagues by dealing with spontaneous and pre-planned incidents where people are armed with firearms, knives and other weapons.

Some of these people will be involved in crime; a significant number of others will be suffering from mental illness or at points of crisis within their lives, posing a danger to themselves and others.  We provide 24/7 cover to all of Northern Ireland.


All officers in the ARU have had to complete and pass a rigorous selection process and nationally approved authorised firearms course. The firearms course provides the officers with the skills to deal with armed suspects on foot, vehicle and search for armed suspects in buildings and open areas.  During the course officers will also have to successfully complete the police advanced drivers course, the tactical pursuit course, advanced first aid and fitness tests..


As well as being equipped with conventional firearms, armed response officers are equipped with various less lethal technologies including AEP and Taser but the preferred method is good verbal communication to resolve the issue peacefully.  All this enables the officers to stabilise and control firearms incidents.  We have a fleet of performance vehicles as well as landrovers and armoured cars.

Officer with Tactical Vest and Taser

Keeping People Safe.

In addition to dealing with firearms incidents the unit regularly use their skills in other aspects of policing and keeping people safe.

We provide method of entry to houses for Local policing teams dealing with concern for safety calls;

We provide advanced first aid to members of the public on the street including CPR and carry oxygen and defibrillators.

Due to our experience of dealing with people who may be emotionally distressed, the Incident Control Centre regularly task us to conduct initial negotiations with vulnerable people threatening to commit self-harm until the arrival of negotiators.

We also support Districts and departments in their efforts to keep our communities safe through pro-active operations.

Working with the Community.

We believe in the importance of engaging with young people of our communities, to that end we have developed and deliver our ‘Guns and Knives Ruin Lives’ presentation.  This is an educational programme for 12-18 year olds within youth clubs and schools across Northern Ireland which deals with the law, dangers and consequences of carrying knives or other weapons. The programme has keeping people safe at its core and has been running for 3 years with great success.

It explains the dangers and consequences of carrying weapons in a way that the age group understands.  We have provided this to many community groups and schools who do not normally have access to the police and in many cases have received requests for further presentations.

Keeping People Safe is at the core of the ARU.


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