SCOTTISH Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie has called for a full formal review of the arming of police officers.
The controversial policy has attracted criticism after the emergence of pictures of armed officers on routine patrols.
Mr Rennie accused Police Scotland and the Scottish Police Authority (SPA) of “stonewalling” calls by Highland Council for the policy to be scrapped in the area.
He also claimed Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill had “abdicated any and all responsibility” for the policies of Police Scotland
He said: “Highland Council’s united calls for the policy to be scrapped have been stonewalled until the next routine SPA risk meeting in September.
“That isn’t a good enough response to the pressing concerns of these communities. Scottish Liberal Democrats want the SPA to undertake an immediate and full formal review of Police Scotland’s policy on armed police. A separate review would allow swifter action on an increasingly controversial policy.
“Pending the outcome of that review I know many wish to see an end to the deployment of armed officers on routine duties. Questions also remain about the need for those armed officers to carry sidearms if they are to continue attending routine duties.”
Police Scotland’s refusal to act on the issue put them at odds with the Scottish Human Rights Commission, Justice Scotland and Highland Council, among others, he said.
Mr Rennie added: “It is time the growing chorus of concern was met with a more thoughtful response.”