POLICE chiefs have stepped up patrols by armed officers at public events in Greater Manchester.

The move follows a national increase in the number of police officers trained in the use of firearms in the UK, resulting in GMP’s armed unit being boosted by a third.

The visible change in armed policing to be seen over the next few months is not in response to any specific threat but aim to provide visible reassurance, GMP said.

However, members of the public will be more likely to see armed officers at crowded events such as concerts and football matches.

A similar approach to armed policing at last year’s Christmas Markets in Manchester city centre received positive feedback from members of the public.

Supt Mark Dexter, of GMP’s specialist operations branch, said: “As front line responders we understand that the public want more officers out and about in Greater Manchester, particularly when they are at large events such as concerts and football matches.

“We hope by deploying more armed officers it shows that we do listen to feedback and this move will make you feel safer and more relaxed while out enjoying yourselves.

“I know some people can find armed officers intimidating and might feel nervous about approaching them but, I want to assure you that they are there to help in any way they can just like unarmed officers you’d see on patrol.

“They are normal people like you and me, with families and friends, and I am sure that they would appreciate hellos, smiles and a few friendly words whilst carrying out their duties. “Our number priority is keeping the public safe and if this increase helps people feel more at ease, then we see this as a positive step.”