A SNAP poll has suggested that three quarters of Johnston Press readers would back the routine arming of police officers in the UK.
The poll received responses from 2,675 Facebook users and asked should police in the UK be routinely armed?. The survey was published just two days after the third terror attack to hit the UK in 10 weeks and found that only 25 per cent of the public opposed all police officers being armed.
Currently most police officers in the UK are not armed. In the event of a terror related incident, a specialist unit of armed police will be called to the scene.
‘More than just guns and armed officers’
Speaking to BBC Radio’s Good Morning Scotland programme yesterday, Scottish Police Federation’s General Secretary, Calum Steele, said, “We have to ask how realistic it is in this day and age, with the threat that we face at this moment in time, how we expect unarmed police officers - and in the vast majority of cases it will be unarmed officers that will be the first to attend, or happen across those who are committing these attacks - how fair it is to expect them to do that when they are facing people intent on causing death and injury?”
Although Nicola Sturgeon has stated that there is no intelligence to any specific threat to Scotland, there has been a substantial rise in the number of armed police patrolling.
It was also announced last year that the number of armed officers in Scotland would increase from 250 to 374.
Mr Steele added, “Let’s not kid ourselves that that’s extra police officers, because those armed police officers are coming from the contingent of other officers out there.
“When we consider that the fight against terrorism has to be about more than just guns and armed officers, that is more police officers that are being taken out of communities where evidence and intelligence is capable of being gathered, where community relations are being built.”
He added: “The police service cannot fight terrorism on its own and the intelligence services cannot fight terrorism on their own. As well as having the capability to gather intelligence and to form relationships and to build trust in our communities, we also have to have the tactical capabilities to respond.
“But we have to make sure we don’t have police officers in a situation where they are likely to be considered expendable because they do not have the personal, protective equipment to look after themselves.”
At present only police officers in Northern Ireland are armed on duty, and are also permitted to carry personal protection weapons off-duty.