SPA seek public opinion on armed police row

The issue has sparked controversy. Picture: Ian Rutherford

The issue has sparked controversy. Picture: Ian Rutherford

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MEMBERS of the public are being asked to give their opinion on the controversial issue of armed police on Scotland’s streets.

The Scottish Police Authority (SPA) says it wants to gauge the level of public concern following what it describes as “misinformation and misunderstandings” in the debate surrounding the policy.

Politicians and community leaders have attacked the nationwide roll-out of officers with a standing authority to carry guns on routine patrols since the formation of Scotland’s single police force.

The Police Scotland policy is now the subject of independent reviews by the SPA and HM Inspectorate of Constabulary in Scotland (HMICS).

The SPA has already contacted 350 interested parties to garner their views on the issue and identify any lessons to be learned.

Iain Whyte, board member and chair of the scrutiny inquiry, said: “With the obvious exception of last week’s Scottish referendum, few other issues have stimulated as much opinion and debate in recent months as the role of armed officers in Scottish policing, and in particular concerns about how armed police are used and deployed on more routine duties.

“But like many debates, there has also been some misinformation, some misunderstandings and a number of claims to know the public’s mind and mood on this issue.

“That’s why the SPA believes the call for evidence we are undertaking is a tremendous opportunity for an accurate assessment of the nature and level of public concerns to be captured, and for communities and their representatives to make their voices heard.

“We are listening, we want your views, and we will ensure that the public voice is reflected in our inquiry and informs our findings on this issue.

“So, I want to urge everyone in Scotland to get engaged and play their part.”

Members of the public can submit evidence by visiting the SPA website at www.spa.police.uk. The deadline is October 17.

Responses from the public and interested groups will feed into a series of public evidence sessions to be held across Scotland in the coming months.

The overall findings and recommendations of both reviews are due to be reported to a full SPA public meeting on December 17.

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