UK Special Forces Disguised as Police?

A recently uploaded YouTube video showing unidentified UK military personnel in the aftermath of the May 2017 Manchester Arena bombing seems to indicate at least one operator is wearing a police patch, likely in an effort to disguise the presence of UK Special Forces.

Photographs of the UKSF element, including operators carrying electronic counter-measures and a working dog team, appeared on Twitter as the operation was underway and were later published in several newspapers including the Manchester Evening News. The mixed force of CTSFO (Counter Terrorist Specialist Firearms Officer) police firearms officers and military personnel were shown conducting a raid on a Granby House address in central Manchester.

The new video, however, shows previously unseen detail, particularly of the dog handler as he secures his dog in the back of an unmarked van. He wears black fatigues with what appears to be a Crye JPC plate carrier in MultiCam pattern along with an Ops Core Maritime helmet with likely a SOTR (Special Operations Tactical Respirator) mask concealing his features.

His weapon is the distinctive Colt Canada L119A2 equipped with Surefire suppressor and Trijicon ACOG (Advanced Combat Optical Gunsight) partnered with a Docter mini red dot optic. The L119A2 is only used by UKSF units such as 22 Special Air Service Regiment and the Special Boat Service. He also carries a Glock 19 sidearm.

Most surprising, however, is the ‘POLICE’ patch worn on his left bicep. The operator is clearly UKSF based on his weapons and equipment. One wonders if the use of police markings to disguise their presence has any legal implications.

Similar operations around Manchester at the time in Fallowfield saw the UKSF contingent joined by Alpha High Risk Ammunition Technical Officers (ATO), a specialist unit trained in counter-terrorist explosive ordnance disposal (EOD), wearing ATO and EOD patches and carrying both L85A2 (SA80A2) and L119A2 rifles (hinting of either a wider adoption of the L119A2 or an attached ATO element). At least one presumed UKSF operator appears to wear an ‘SFO’ patch, again likely in an effort to disguise the domestic deployment of UKSF.