64 per cent of Scots police officers want access to a gun

Currently, only specialist officers have access to firearms.Currently, only specialist officers have access to firearms.
Currently, only specialist officers have access to firearms.
Almost two-thirds of Scotland's police officers want to carry a handgun amid fears that they are 'vulnerable and ill equipped' to deal with dangerous situations.
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A major survey of more than 4,200 officers carried out by the Scottish Police Federation (SPF) found that 64 per cent were in favour of such a move in the wake of recent terrorist attacks.

It also showed that around an eighth of officers believe their existing protective equipment – which includes batons, handcuffs and body armour – is “ineffective” against criminals.

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The routine arming of police gained the most support among younger officers, who are more likely to be working in response roles, with 73 per cent of 25 to 34-year-olds backing the change.

The move gained far less support among older officers, with only 33 per cent of those aged 55 and older in favour. Fewer than half of female officers (48 per cent) said they wanted to carry a gun.

More than three quarters of officers (77 per cent) said they would be happy to be trained in using a handgun as an alternative to being routinely armed, allowing them to use one if required.

This is the model currently used in Norway, where handguns are usually secured in police vehicles but can be quickly accessed by trained officers in the event of a serious threat.

Support for routinely arming police with Tasers gained more support than for handguns, with 90 per cent of the officers who responded saying they should be equipped with one.

In a similar survey carried out by the Police Federation in England and Wales over the summer, only 43 per cent of officers said they should receive firearms training and be armed when necessary.

The survey also suggested there is “significant under-recording of violence against police officers”, with just over half admitting they do not record all of the incidents.

The SPF represents 98 per cent of all officers in Scotland in the ranks of constable, sergeant, inspector and chief inspector, as well as police cadets and special constables.

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The organisation’s vice chair David Hamilton said Police Scotland’s current policy meant that officers responding to incidents could be unable to protect themselves.

“This survey shows the clear capability gap that police officers in Scotland currently have,” he added. “Stretched budgets, low resource levels and an increased threat from criminality and terrorism is making our officers feel vulnerable and ill equipped to keep people safe.

“Whilst we have some of the best specialist firearms resources in the world, it is the officers responding to day-to-day calls that are at the greatest risk form spontaneous violence.

“There is nothing in between – we go from nought to SWAT, a situation that must change.”

Scottish Liberal Democrat justice spokesman Liam McArthur said the routine arming of police would be “disproportionate and contrary to the principle of policing by consent”.