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  • Writer's pictureAscalon Protection Group

Are Close Protection Operatives Armed in the UK?

Updated: Sep 12, 2023

can close protection operatives carry guns uk

Close Protection, a central component of many private security operations, requires a thorough understanding of the legal framework surrounding the use of force, particularly the possession and use of firearms. In the United Kingdom where strict firearms legislation exists, it is essential to explore the regulations regarding the carrying of guns by Close Protection Operatives and Bodyguards, and ensure an understanding through an overview of the legality of carrying firearms in the UK.

Currently, unlike in countries such as the USA, Close Protection Operatives in the UK working in the private sector are NOT permitted to carry firearms. The only individuals who are allowed to do are certain members of the Police and UK Special Forces (UKSF). However there are situations outside of the UK where private Close Protection Operatives are permitted to carry weapons, for example in hostile environments such as parts of the Middle East or Africa, when operating within the employment of a private security company.

Firearms Legislation in the UK

A. Overview of the strict firearms laws in the UK

The UK has stringent firearms legislation aimed at maintaining public safety and reducing gun-related crime. These laws regulate the possession, acquisition, and use of firearms. 1.2 GB firearms policy is based on the fact that firearms are dangerous weapons and the State has a duty to protect the public from their misuse. Gun ownership is a privilege, not a right. Firearms control in the UK is among the toughest in the world and, as a result, firearms offences continue to make up a small proportion of recorded crime.

B. The Firearms Act 1968 and subsequent amendments

The Firearms Act 1968 is the primary legislation governing firearms in the UK. It has been amended several times since, such as in 1988, 1997, and 2017 in order to strengthen control measures, address emerging challenges, and clarify certain aspects.

C. The different firearm categories and their legal requirements

The Firearms Act categorises firearms into various classes, such as prohibited weapons, handguns, shotguns, and rifles. Each category has distinct legal requirements regarding possession, acquisition, and use (such as within sports, antique collections etc).

Use of Firearms in Close Protection

A. The principle of proportionate and justifiable use of firearms

Those individuals are who permitted to carry firearms in the UK (whether Military or Police) are bound by the principle of proportionality, meaning that the use of firearms must be reasonable and necessary in response to a perceived threat. The use of force must be justifiable within the legal framework.

B. The importance of continuous training and qualification for firearm proficiency

All professionals carrying firearms for work must undergo regular training to maintain their proficiency in firearm handling and marksmanship. Ongoing training ensures that they remain capable of making informed decisions and using firearms safely.

C. The legal and ethical considerations when employing firearms in Close Protection operations

It must be stressed that the only Close Protection Operatives who are authorised to carry firearms in the UK are certain members of the Police and UKSF, and even these personnel must navigate complex legal and ethical considerations when carrying firearms. They must act within the confines of the law, ensuring that the use of firearms is in line with the principles of self-defence and the protection of others.

can close protection operatives carry guns uk

Alternatives to Firearms in Close Protection

A. Non-lethal options for self-defence in Close Protection

While firearms may be a viable option in certain situations, Close Protection operatives should also consider non-lethal alternatives for self-defence. These may include hand-to-hand combat, defensive techniques, and astute tactical awareness. It is worth noting that currently in the UK, even qualified Close Protection Operatives in the private sector are not permitted to carry non-lethal weapons such as tasers, batons or pepper spray.

B. Training in defensive techniques, tactical awareness, and risk assessment

Close Protection operatives should receive comprehensive training in defensive techniques, tactical awareness, and risk assessment. These skills allow them to de-escalate situations, avoid potential threats, and make informed decisions about the use of force.

Collaborative Approaches with Law Enforcement

A. Close co-operation between Close Protection Operatives and local law enforcement agencies

Close Protection Operatives often work in collaboration with local law enforcement agencies, particularly on high-profile or state level operations. Effective communication and information sharing are vital to ensuring a coordinated response to potential threats or emergencies, particularly for any incidents involving the offensive use of firearms.

B. Leveraging law enforcement support for armed protection, if required

In certain circumstances, Close Protection Operatives may work alongside armed law enforcement officers for an enhanced level of protection. This collaborative approach ensures a cohesive response and access to additional resources when needed.

C. The benefits of effective communication and information sharing

Clear and open lines of communication between Close Protection Operatives, law enforcement agencies, the clients and other key personnel are crucial for effective and successful security operations. Information sharing enables a comprehensive understanding of the threat landscape and facilitates a coordinated response.

Evolving Security Threats and Legislation

A. The impact of changing security threats on firearms regulations

The evolving nature of security threats necessitates continuous review and adaptation of firearms regulations. Legislation should reflect the changing landscape to address emerging risks effectively.

B. Continuous review and adaptation of legislation to address emerging risks

Legislators and regulatory bodies should continuously review and update firearms legislation to align with current security challenges. This ongoing evaluation ensures that the regulatory framework remains relevant and effective.

C. The need for Close Protection Operatives to stay informed and compliant with evolving laws

Close Protection Operatives have a responsibility to stay informed about changes in firearms legislation and regulations. Regular training and staying updated on legal developments ensure compliance and the ability to adapt to evolving security dynamics.


In the UK, Close Protection Operatives must navigate strict firearms legislation when it comes to carrying guns. Compliance with the law is paramount to maintaining public safety and professionalism within the industry. As discussed, only Close Protection Operatives within certain Government services can legally carry firearms if they meet the criteria set by the Firearms Act.

The licensing process involves rigorous vetting, screening, and demonstrating a genuine need for firearms in the line of work. Close Protection Operatives, wherever in the world they are operating must also adhere to the principles of proportionality and justifiability when using firearms. Continuous training, qualification, and adherence to legal and ethical considerations are vital to ensuring the safe and responsible use of firearms.

While firearms may be a part of Close Protection in other countries, particularly in certain states in the USA, they are not a cornerstone for the Close Protection industry in the UK. Instead, training in defensive techniques, tactical awareness, and the use of less-lethal force provide additional options for self-defence within legal parameters.

Collaboration with law enforcement agencies fosters effective security operations, and effective communication and information sharing are key in achieving a cohesive response to potential threats. Close Protection Operatives must understand their legal responsibilities, ensure comprehensive insurance coverage, and adhere to strict protocols and regulations to maintain accountability.

As security threats continue to evolve, it is essential for Close Protection operatives to stay informed about changes in firearms legislation and regulations. Ongoing training and compliance with evolving laws contribute to the professionalism and effectiveness of all private security operations.

By understanding and adhering to the legal framework surrounding firearms in Close Protection, Operatives can carry out their duties while upholding the highest standards of safety, professionalism, and public trust. Compliance with firearms regulations ensures that Close Protection remains a reliable and trusted service in safeguarding individuals and assets.



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