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What is an Armed response vehicle (ARV)?

ARV Meaning In The Police

What is an Armed response vehicle (ARV)?

An armed response vehicle is a type of police vehicle that is used by police officers who are authorised to use firearms. These specially trained officers respond to incidents where firearms or other weapons are suspected to be involved.

An armed response vehicle carries ammunition and weapons which can be used when required when dealing with a dangerous situation. The armed response vehicles are used by specially trained police officers that work across the United Kingdom and deal with potentially dangerous and volatile situations.

Armed Police officer in black uniform carrying a G36 gun

History of the Armed response vehicles

The early concept of armed response vehicles was influenced by West Yorkshire police and these vehicles have been used since 1976. These vehicles were introduced to provide police officers with the ability to respond to situations where firearms are a threat. 

Early armed response vehicles were fitted with a secure safe where small handguns (Smith & Wesson Model 10) were stored and there were bigger firearms (9mm Heckler & Koch MP5 semi-automatic carbines) stored in the secured boot of the vehicle.

Once this type of vehicle was established it became widespread, and the guns were replaced with more modern guns that were thought to be considered more suitable for the jobs that were potentially going to be faced.

Once established the armoury in the vehicles was updated and the revolvers were replaced by the semi-automatic Glock 17 which has a 9x19mm chamber.

In 2010 the Heckler & Koch G36C with a 5.56 mm chamber was introduced so that the vehicles were equipped in the event of a terrorist attack. The initial response of the law enforcement officers would be to use the handguns that they would deploy if there were an immediate threat to life. The introduction of armed response vehicles enabled police to respond safely to situations where firearms or weapons were suspected.  

In the UK most police officers do not carry any type of firearms therefore the firearms officers and armed response vehicles play an important role. Police officers are not usually armed with anything more than CS spray (or Pava spray) and a telescopic baton, which will be enough in most cases but in some situations, a bit more weaponry is required to maintain the safety of the officers and the public.

Unfortunately, nowadays there is an increasing number of situations where the suspects are armed with knives or guns, and this is when firearms officers are vital for dealing with the situations. 

What does ARV mean?

The term ARV stands for Armed Response Vehicle. These vehicles are used by police officers who are authorised to use firearms as a method of response in high-risk or dangerous situations.

Armed response vehicles are modified and adapted to accommodate specialist equipment. Armed response vehicles respond spontaneously to incidents that involve firearms. Police officers in these vehicles have to undergo extensive training, which covers advanced driving, stopping and searching suspect vehicles, and containment of vehicles. 

Armed Response Vehicle (ARV)

An armed response vehicle is a form of police vehicle that is used by police officers who have been specially trained to enable them to be able to deal with volatile firearms situations. These specially trained officers need to be able to attend whenever they are required.

In cases where a firearm is suspected, the closest armed response vehicle unit will be deployed to the situation, and every police force within the UK will deploy a few normal patrol cars that will be backed up by the firearms officers. 

Features of armed response vehicles

Armed response vehicles carry ammunition and weapons, which includes less lethal weapons that can be used to deal with spontaneous incidents involving firearms. The vehicles will have a secure safe in the boot of the car to carry firearms and ammunition.

These vehicles also carry collision equipment, including cones, signs, and enhanced first aid equipment such as airway management, automatic external defibrillator, oxygen, and blood.  

Cars used for ARVs

The most common type of car that armed response police officers drive is the BMW x5. The BMW x5 is a medium-sized SUV and is classed as a luxury car.

These cars were first produced in 1999 and feature all-wheel drive with either an automatic or manual transmission system. The BMW x5 is a powerful vehicle that offers outstanding performance.

Officers that are approved to use firearms conduct mobile patrols in vehicles such as the BMW x5, and whilst on duty, they can be deployed to incidents as required.

The view from inside the BMW x5 is very clear, and the car is roomy, which makes it a comfortable car to spend a lot of time in whilst on duty. The vehicle has a large engine in case of a high-speed pursuit and is adapted for the use of Firearms officers.  

Silver BMW x5 ARV Police car, outside buckingham palace, london
Tom Brook

Tom Brook

I am a former Police Detective with years of knowledge and experience in investigating serious crimes across Scotland, working with communities and keeping the public safe. I aim to give back to the Policing community with this site!
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