The recent appearance of the occasional armed police unit on our streets has given rise to predictable alarmist outbursts from those who originally opposed the establishment of a unified Scottish police service.
Regrettably, any major changes in police procedures generate predictable negative outbursts. Unsurprisingly, these critics rarely make reference to positive aspects of the unified force: falling crime rates; the police community engagement meeting scheme; and the sharing of resources, as in the recent Commonwealth Games, and so on.
The deployment of specialist armed units on routine duties is a more efficient use of experienced officers who would otherwise be held in reserve awaiting a call to respond to an incident requiring armed expertise. These officers are superbly trained and their current deployment poses no threat to the general public.
There have been suggestions that operational policy changes of this type should be opened to public consultation or debated within the Scottish Parliament before implementation. I firmly believe that operational matters should be left to police commanders. They remain accountable through the Scottish Police Authority and, ultimately, the justice secretary.
My main criticism of the recent policy change was the manner in which it was surreptitiously introduced. Police Scotland must be more open with the public to minimise the scope for the professional snipers eager to take a pot shot at the slightest opportunity.
Dalgety Bay, Fife