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How to become a Counter Terrorism Specialist Firearms Officer (CTSFO)?

Becoming A Counter Terrorism Specialist Firearms Officer (CTSFO)

How to become a Counter Terrorism Specialist Firearms Officer (CTSFO)?

You’re a seasoned police officer accustomed to life on patrol. Perhaps it’s time to advance in your career and, after some research, you’re considering a role within your firearms department. 

Or better yet, a Counter Terrorism Specialist Firearms Officer (CTSFO).

A highly competitive position within the force, the process for becoming a CTSFO is not as straightforward as you might think. With a series of exams and intensive training, to successfully be appointed to this role, you must be completely and utterly dedicated throughout the entire process. 

The good news is that, with the right levels of determination and knowledge, you can and will succeed. 

Today, we explore what exactly a CTSFO is, and how to become one.

CTSFO police, with guns storming house

Role of a Counter Terrorism Specialist Firearms Officer (CTSFO)

Ranked as the highest level of an authorised firearms officer in the UK, a Counter Terrorism Specialist Firearms Officer (CTSFO) works alongside UK Intelligence to prevent, deter, and investigate terrorist activity. 

On the lead up to the Summer Olympics of 2012, the Metropolitan Police Services (MPS) established a tactical police unit to combat threats of terrorism. 

Having only been established for ten years, this tactical police unit is responsible for responding to nationwide terrorist incidents and attacks and work alongside the military to provide ballistic first aid to save lives.

CTSFO units are prepared to storm buildings, planes, airports, buses, and trains in response to all terrorist and hostage threat. 

It will be no surprise that all CTSFOs were pushed to their limits with intense training. Methods included fast-roping from helicopters and the use of live rounds during close quarters combat training. Intense, right? However, with extreme and dangerous circumstances comes the need for extensive and high-level training.

So, why do we need a CTSFO unit?

With the heightened threat of terrorist threats to our nation, it is crucial that we have a dedicated team of CTSFOs to protect and serve the community. Terror attacks in Manchester, Westminster, and London Bridge are a devastating example of why we need protection. 

If you’ve come this far and think you’ve got what it takes to handle the demand, read on to discover how you can become a CTSFO. 

History of the CTSFO

Before the creation of the tactical Counter Terrorism Specialist Officer (CTSFO), the highest authorised firearms officer in the UK was the Specialist Firearms Officer (SFO). 

Just like a CTSFO, an SFO is trained to an extremely high standard and is prepared to storm buildings with specialist weapon usage.

However, as we mentioned previously, a CTSFOS training goes above and beyond this as their responsibilities in protecting the public are largely heightened and extremely demanding. 

In 2012, CTSFOs conducted training with the United Kingdom Special Forces alongside five other territorial police forces including Police Scotland, Thames Valley Police, West Yorkshire Police, West Midlands Police, and Greater Manchester Police. 

Together, this training formed what was known as the national Combined Response Firearms Teams (CTFT) to combat terrorist threats for the London Olympics and Paralympics. 

Path to Counter Terrorism Specialist Firearms Officer (CTSFO)

To become a Counter Terrorism Specialist Firearms Officer (CTSFO), you must first have passed your two years’ probationary period as police constable. After that, you may apply to become an Armed Police Officer, and, upon successful completion, you will be required to work your way up the firearms rank. 

Undergoing a series of training and fitness tests each time, the firearm ranks go as follows:

  • Authorised Firearm Officer 
  • Armed Response Vehicle
  • Specialists Firearm Officer
  • Counter Terrorism Specialist Firearms Officer 

The recruitment process is a true test of your capabilities and determination and consists of practical exams, interviews, background vetting, health screenings, and physical fitness tests

As we’ve discussed in a previous article, the fitness requirements for becoming an armed police officer are often intense and it is important that you are fully prepared for them. As you continue to rank up as an armed officer, the fitness examination becomes more and more strenuous – and for good reason.

In addition to the above, police officers must also pass an enhanced ballistic first aid course and continue to do so once a year. With the public’s safety in your hands, passing the ballistic first aid course is essential to becoming an armed officer. 

Whilst this does sound like an intense process, don’t let it sway your decision in becoming a CTSFO. 

With the rising threat to public safety, it is crucial that the police force maintain their numbers within their tactical units. 

Your dedication will determine how far you can go. 

Don’t wait, apply today. 

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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