500 more police officers in Scotland to be armed with Tasers
Police Scotland is also proposing that firearms officers can be sent to a wider range of incidents
Police officer armed with Taser - Image credit: POLICEDIVER2 via Flickr
More police officers in Scotland are to be armed with Tasers in a bid to protect officers and the public, Police Scotland has announced.
Police Scotland will select around 500 conventional officers to be given Tasers, across all 13 divisions of Police Scotland, taking the total to around three per cent of the force.
The force also intends to deploy firearms officers on more routine duties, such as road traffic accidents and medical emergencies.
The plans will be put before the board of the Scottish Police Authority on Tuesday 19 December.
The move to arm more officers with Tasers comes in response to a rise in attacks on police – so far in 2017 969 officers have been assaulted, compared with 764 in 2016, an increase of 27 per cent.
Deputy Chief Constable Johnny Gwynne said the change was about public safety.
He said: “Our officers are facing increasing threats of violence from people with knives and other bladed weapons.
“We’ve also seen an increase in the number of officers attacked while carrying out their everyday duties.
“We will shortly begin the selection process for around 500 conventional uniformed officers to be trained to carry Taser.
“These officers will be deployed at the heart of local policing in all 13 divisions across Scotland, helping to keep their colleagues and the public safe and bringing Police Scotland into line with forces throughout the UK.
“Ultimately, this move is about keeping the public safe, which is at the heart of what we do.”
The force also announced that it intends to deploy armed response vehicles (ARVs) on non-firearms calls, in a bid to make more efficient use of resources.
Currently (ARVs) can only be sent by the control room to firearms incidents or threats to life, although they may deal with other incidents they come across in the course of their duties.
ARVs will continue to be overseen by specially trained police inspectors, who will assess the appropriateness of the calls they attend, but they could be sent to other incidents such as road crashes.
An increase in firearms officers was announced in June 2016, with all of the 124 armed officers – including 99 ARVs – now transferred into their new roles.
Gwynne said: “We have increased the number of ARV officers available in our communities but our current deployment model is inefficient.
“It does not allow these officers to be sent by the control room to anything other than firearms or threat to life incidents.
“They already respond to things they come across and are sent to other incidents where there’s a threat to life but no firearms are involved.
“They are trained in advanced emergency first aid and we have many examples of incidents where these officers have assisted, such as at road crashes or medical emergencies where they have been able to get to the scene before an ambulance.
“ARV officers will now support colleagues and the public by responding to a wider range of incidents with an emphasis on public protection, vulnerability and speed of response.
“They will also support local and national campaigns, such as drink-driving and speed awareness activity.”
Gwynne added that there had been concerns in the past about the role of armed officers in communities, but that Police Scotland had learned from that and had carried out “extensive engagement”.
The move to arm more officers comes after research by the Scottish Police Federation found that the majority of officers in Scotland would be in favour of carrying a weapon.
A survey by the organisation, which represents around 18,500 police officers across Scotland, published last month found that 64 per cent of officers would like access to a handgun, while 90 per cent wanted to have a Taser.
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