Scottish police officers 'feel vulnerable to spontaneous violence'

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Scotland's police officers feel under-equipped to tackle violent crime and terrorism, the Scottish Police Federation (SPF) has claimed.
The SPF said many officers felt vulnerable to "spontaneous violence".


And it said there had to be a middle ground between sending unarmed or armed officers to incidents.
It has published a survey of about 4,200 officers, which suggested that many want to be able to carry handguns to protect themselves and the public.


The SPF, which represents 18,500 officers, said the findings exposed the fears of rank and file officers.


Vice chairman David Hamilton said: "This survey shows the clear capability gap that police officers in Scotland currently have.
"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 from spontaneous violence.
"There is nothing in between. We go from nought to SWAT, a situation that must change."

Taser support


The SPF survey on safety and protective equipment, which was carried out in June and July, found that 63.7% of officers who responded said they wanted to carry a handgun. This figure rose to 73% in the 25-34 age group.

When asked whether they would be prepared to be trained in the use of a handgun in case it were needed, 77% were in favour.
On the question of Tasers, 89.6% said they should be equipped with one.


A similar survey by the Police Federation in England and Wales in the summer found only 42.5% of officers thought they should receive training and be armed when necessary.
Police Scotland has about 600 officers trained to Armed Response Vehicle (ARV) standard, although only about 400 are full-time firearms officers.


Officers must complete an intensive 11-week training course at the force's training and recruitment centre in East Kilbride before they are permitted to carry firearms, including Tasers.


Earlier this year the SPF conference in Ayrshire heard calls for the 50,000-volt weapons to be more widely available to protect their members.


Police Scotland Chief Constable Phil Gormley - who is currently on "leave of absence" after five complaints were made against him - took part in a Q&A session alongside Justice Secretary Michael Matheson.


Responding to a question about whether unarmed officers should be sent to incidents if armed officers are not available, Mr Gormley said the force's armed capability was "massively" increased in 2016.


He added: "Do I think we are at the point where we need to routinely arm all officers in Scotland? No, I don't.
"I think the unintended consequences of that for us as a service and for the public would be to present greater risk and threat."

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Friday, 06 December 2019

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