UK police should carry guns as matter of routine

A snap poll has suggested that that three quarters of Johnston Press readers would back the routine arming of police officers in the UK.

Tuesday, 6th June 2017, 12:08 pm
Updated Tuesday, 6th June 2017, 3:02 pm

The poll received responses from 2,675 Facebook users and asked should police in the UK be routinely armed? The survey was published just two days after the third terror attack to hit the UK in 10 weeks and found that only 25 per cent of the public opposed all police officers being armed.

Currently most police officers in the UK do not carry firearms. In the event of a terror related incident, a specialist unit of armed police will be called to the scene.

Now with 700 fewer armed police officers on the beat since 2010, the recent terror attacks in London and Manchester have seen some calling for police officers to be routinely armed.

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‘Officers do not feel comfortable with the idea’

The view isn’t shared by Cressida Dick, commissioner of the Metropolitan Police, as she says she does not believe in the introduction of armed police throughout the UK.

“I personally do not support the routine arming of every single police officer on the streets,” she told BBC Five Live on Monday.

“What these terrorists want to do is completely change the nature of our society. I think the public and my officers do not feel comfortable with the idea of every single officer being armed,” she adds.

“Secondly, I actually don’t think it necessarily provides, in fact it doesn’t provide, a higher form of protection for the public or indeed the officers, necessarily, and we’ve seen that, for example, sadly, tragically in France - a lone officer, armed.

“In other countries where you have someone armed with a sidearm who is going about his normal business as a community officer - they are also very, very vulnerable.

“So to have people who can deal with this kind of very complex terrifying threat strikes me as the right way to go.”

In April 2016 the National Police Chief’s Council announced plans to train and recruit an additional 1,500 firearms officers by April 2018 in England and Wales.

At present only police officers in Northern Ireland are armed on duty, and are also permitted to carry personal protection weapons off-duty.