Routine arming of police requires justification

THE defence of the realm and the protection of the people are the most fundamental responsibilities of government. In the modern world, this has come to mean not that we expect to be defended by a huge navy ready to repel invaders but that society is protected from the ever-present threat of terrorist attack.

For this reason, we have become used the presence of armed police at our airports, seen to be particularly vulnerable to such attacks. Indeed, so used to them have we become we seldom stop to ask whether the patrols by officers with guns actually make airports any safer. The possibility there might be armed officers at Glasgow airport did not, for example, prevent it being attacked by terrorists.

In this context we are not convinced the move to allow the British Transport Police to carry arms in London will act as a deterrent to terrorism. Similarly, we question whether the calls for the police who patrol Scotland's railway stations to be given firearms will have enhance public security.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Although British police more often carry guns, our forces are still largely unarmed. We do not believe an unquantified terrorist threat and the unproven claim that armed officers would act as a deterrent justifies taking a further step towards a routinely armed force.