Police Scotland has changed its controversial policy on the deployment of armed officers.
In future, firearms officers attached to armed response vehicles will only be deployed to incidents involving firearms or where there is a threat to life.
The move comes in response to concerns over a “standing authority” which allowed a small number of officers across Scotland to carry guns while on routine patrol.
The announcement by Chief Constable Sir Stephen House followed a meeting of Police Scotland’s Armed Policing Monitoring Group, which reviewed updated intelligence and information including evidence on legally held firearms in Scotland, classified information on serious organised crime groups that operate across the country and the number of firearms deployments between April and August.
Commenting on the change of approach, Deputy Chief Constable Iain Livingstone, Crime and Operational Support, said: “Protecting the public and ensuring that all communities have the same access to specialist policing support, no matter where or when they need it, is at the heart of this decision. We have balanced our overriding duty to keep people safe with consideration of the views expressed about the perception of armed officers supporting local policing activities.”
The standing authority allowing the deployment of officers with handguns and Taser stun guns will continue, but a working group has been established to review the types of carriage for both sidearms and Tasers and the deployment of armed response vehicle officers when not deployed to firearm incidents. This group will submit a preliminary report in January 2015.