More armed guards on UK ships

A number of major UK shipping companies now carry armed teams to combat the threat of Somali pirates, a leading industry security spokesman has said.

The prime minister said in October that UK ships could carry armed teams.

Gavin Simmonds, defence and security head at the Chamber of Shipping, estimated that 20-30% of UK ships in the high risk area had armed guards.

But a security industry spokesman said the process for approving security firms was “not fit for purpose”.

“There are a number of major UK companies who would not have wanted to have gone against the government’s advice and did not change their policy on this until after the prime minister’s announcement was made,” Mr Simmonds told the BBC News website.

But since then they had started the practice of carrying armed guards, he went on, “And I am totally confident that they are being carried in compliance with all the new procedures.”

He was speaking as the UK prepared to host an international conference on the problems of Somalia on Thursday.

However, Peter Cook, director of the Security Association of the Maritime Industry (Sami), said the circumstances surrounding approval of companies to provide armed teams for UK ships were “challenging”.

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Story courtesy of the BBC.

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