Scottish Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill said this week that he supported the controversial Police Scotland policy on armed officers.
After Police Scotland was established last year, Chief Constable Sir Stephen House took the decision to make specialist armed officers available right across the country 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. However, public concern was raised by recent reports of armed officers attending minor incidents in Inverness and Glasgow, the Daily Record reported.
Speaking in Holyrood, MacAskill agreed it was important that officers do not end up being armed as a matter of routine practice.
But he added that he stood by the Police Scotland policy and highlighted the fact that armed officers are deployed in a wide range of potentially dangerous situations, from gun crime and firearms incidents to situations involving knives, samurai swords, machetes and even broken bottles.
“The presence of these officers in such situations is necessary for the safety of colleagues and the public alike,” the justice secretary stated.
According to Police Scotland, there are currently 275 dedicated armed officers who work on a shift basis across Scotland. They volunteer for these roles and their 17,000 colleagues remain unarmed. The highly trained specialist officers can respond to incidents at a moment’s notice when the deployment of armed officers is considered appropriate, said Deputy Chief Constable Iain Livingstone.