A Counter Terrorist Specialist Firearms Officer (CTSFO) is an elite United Kingdom police firearms officer. The CTSFO standard is the highest Authorised Firearms Officer level in the National Police Firearms Training Curriculum and was established by the Metropcolitan Police Service in the lead up to the 2012 Summer Olympics held in London in July 2012.
A national capability to respond to terrorist incidents such as marauding terrorist firearms attacks through collaboration of police forces who maintain CTSFO teams was established known as the CTSFO Network.
Prior to the 2012 Summer Olympics, the highest authorised firearms officer standard was the Specialist Firearms Officer (SFO). The Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) in preparation for the Olympics trained officers to a higher standard, including use of live rounds during close quarters combat (CQC) training and fast-roping from helicopters, to be able to respond more effectively to terrorist incidents. Conducting training with the United Kingdom Special Forces at a level approaching the Special Air Service and/or Special Boat Service standards.
Training was also provided to five territorial police forces, including Thames Valley Police, West Yorkshire Police, West Midlands Police, Greater Manchester Police and Strathclyde Police, to form what was named the national Combined Response Firearms Teams (CRFT) capability for the London Olympics and Paralympic Games. The police forces received standardised training and also had standardised procedures, weaponry and equipment to enable interoperability.
In April 2016, a two year recruitment drive known as the CTSFO uplift project, part of the National Armed Uplift Programme, commenced to double the number of CTSFOs and has been extended until the end of 2018.
The CTSFO Network provides a collective response capability to terrorist incidents from police forces with CTSFO teams through regional hubs based nationally. The national Combined Response Firearms Teams established for the Olympics was maintained after the closing of the Games forming the basis of the CTSFO Network. The CTSFO Network has 5 regional hubs outside London including Scotland.
In 2013, West Midlands Police CTSFOs deployed to London to support the MPS following the Murder of Lee Rigby in Operation Pegboard.
MPS SPECIALIST FIREARM COMMAND:
The MPS Specialist Firearms Command (SCO19) has 7 CTSFO teams consisting of 1 sergeant and 15 constables, including females, with 6 CTSFO Inspectors and an Operational Senior Manager with a reported strength of 130 officers. An operational CTSFO team works a 7 week shift pattern which includes night duty. CTSFO teams are able to be deployed by air, on the river, using armoured vehicles and motorcycles if needed.
On 30 June 2015, Operation Strong Tower was held in London. It was the largest counter-terrorism exercise ever conducted in the United Kingdom and included the British Transport Police.
On 3 August 2016, the MPS held a press conference for the announcement of Operation Hercules displaying the CTSFO teams to the public with officers equipped with SIG Sauer SIG516 and SIG MCX carbines and paraded the BMW F800GS motorcycles used for deployments in central London.