A BBC report over a police force facing criticism for smiling while posing for pictures with guns has led to a rather unusual trend on social media.
Armed officers from Northumbria Police were pictured posing with members of the public, including children, in images posted on the force’s Facebook page.
The post explained: “It may be a bit chilly out and about but there have been a lot of smiley faces with there being just two more Fridays until Christmas!
“Don’t be alarmed if you do see our armed officers, they are there purely for reassurance and to make people feel safe.”
The force said it was upping its armed patrols after receiving Home Office funding as part of a national programme.
But the BBC pointed out that the post had attractive a number of negative comments.
Some of the comments were indeed critical...
But officers hit back at criticism by posting pictures under the hashtag #SmileForTheBBC...
Northumbria Police assistant chief constable Darren Best said: “We recently announced plans to increase the number of firearms officers we have here in Northumbria after receiving Home Office funding as part of a national programme.
“It is important to stress that this is not as a result of any specific intelligence that this region is going to be targeted for any kind of attack.
“Our armed officers are there to reassure members of the public that we are in a position to respond to any incident that does occur.
“They are regular police officers and them being on patrol will also deter other criminals including shoplifters and pick-pockets.
“Being an AFO requires a huge amount of training and we are very proud of the officers who have taken up this role in Northumbria.
“Their presence at events across the summer was very well received. Our AFOs’ are very happy to stop and speak to members of the public to explain what they are doing and listen to any concerns’
“Our priority will always be to keep those people living and working in the North East feel safe.”