Police Scotland firearm move in wake of terror alert still undecided

POLICE Scotland has said it is continuing to review its firearms capability after the UK's largest force announced plans to arm 600 extra officers to deal with a Paris-style terror attack.

Picture: Ian Rutherford

The number of armed officers in London will rise by more than a quarter after the Metropolitan Police said the attacks in the French capital had showed a “fast response” was needed to deal with “spontaneous” threats. Police Scotland said its position remained under review.

Assistant Chief Constable Bernard Higgins said: “Police Scotland constantly keeps under review our armed policing capability and capacity.

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“In common with every other UK police force, following the attacks in Paris we reviewed our deployment model and will continue to do so in light of up to date intelligence, risk and threat.

“It would be premature to make any comment on future capacity and capability.”

Police Scotland has about 275 officers who patrol in armed response vehicles, as well as specialist firearms officers. Scotland’s new chief constable, Phil Gormley, last week said it was time to “reflect” on whether his force has enough armed officers.

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Following the Paris attacks, in which 130 people were killed on 13 November last year, the Scottish Police Federation said Police Scotland was “woefully under-equipped, under-resourced and under-prepared” for a similar incident. Speaking yesterday, the SPF’s Calum Steele said: “The problem is that policing in Scotland is operating in the most politicised environment that it’s ever operated.

“There is an inherent danger that decisions are taken for political reasons rather than for operational and policing decisions. That’s a dangerous position to be in.

“The position of the SPF was made clear a number of months ago and we haven’t changed that position.

“We would hope that any decision on policing in Scotland and the security of the citizens would take due cognisance of the reality of the risk, rather than the political imperative that may be associated with it.”

A spokesperson said: “The Scottish Government is working closely with all of Scotland’s emergency services to ensure that Scotland is appropriately and proportionately protected against all forms of threat, including terrorism. This includes consideration of Police Scotland’s armed policing capacity and capability.

“The chief constable has made clear that he keeps this under constant review against our emerging understanding of the threat. The Scottish Government will continue to support him in doing so.”