‘No appetite’ for armed officers after Paris attack

Armed police duringt he Glasgow Commonwealth Games. Picture: Ian Rutherford
Armed police duringt he Glasgow Commonwealth Games. Picture: Ian Rutherford
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POLICE Scotland has “no appetite” to increase the number of armed officers despite fears of a Paris-style terror attack.

Senior officers have admitted to changing their security planning in light of the multi-pronged assault on the French capital, but said they were confident the force had enough firearms capability to deal with a similar attack in Scotland.

In a briefing yesterday, officers said they were reviewing security arrangements for around 1,000 public events over the festive period.

Sixty training exercises have been carried out in the past two years, including a mock plane hijacking held on the tarmac at Prestwick airport three days before the events in Paris.

Earlier this week, the Scottish Police Federation called for more officers to carry their weapons in public, saying Scotland was “woefully under-equipped, under-resourced and under-prepared” for an attack.

But Assistant Chief Constable Bernie Higgins said Police Scotland was “well placed” to respond.

He said: “If we had a Paris-style attack in one of our major cities, almost certainly there would be ARVs (armed response vehicles) in that area who would move forward and confront the threat.

“I can give you a cast-iron guarantee we will have cars on the road 24 hours a day. What I can’t give you a guarantee over is if an attack happens in the city centre of Glasgow, the car won’t be in the east end of Glasgow. I can give an assurance there will be a car on duty and we will get there as quickly as we humanly can.”

Mr Higgins said Police Scotland have been forced to changed its planning “assumptions” following the French attack.

“Up until Paris, the planning assumption was based on a two-seat (sites) attack,” he said. “Clearly, in Paris there was a significant number of seats - seven in total - so our planning assumptions have got to evolve.”

Police Scotland has 275 ARV officers across the country and a “significant” number of other unarmed officers who are trained to use guns. The force said it had recently held “no-notice” training exercises for “marauding terrorism attacks” in Glasgow, Edinburgh and Dundee.

Asked about the concerns raised by the SPF, Mr Higgins said: “We have a fundamental difference in terms of what our position is. Given the ongoing threat level, there is no appetite on my part to extend the firearms duties.”