Police Scotland to increase armed officer numbers

Written by Andrew Whitaker on 16 June 2016 in News

More armed police announced for Scotland as minister talks of need to protect public from terror  

 

The number of armed police numbers in Scotland will go up by about a third it was confirmed, as justice secretary Michael Matheson told MSPs it was important to be "prepared for any eventuality".

Matheson formally set out the plans at Holyrood after Police Scotland said it would recruit an extra 90 officers who will be attached to armed response vehicles, bringing the total number to 365.

The force will also recruit 34 more trainers and specialist firearms officers.


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However, Police Scotland insisted there was no specific terror threat to Scotland.

In a statement to MSPs, Matheson said: “The threat we face from terrorism is real.”

But he said that armed officers would remain restricted from routine deployment, following criticism over their attendance at minor incidents and public places such as supermarkets.

He said: "The attacks in mainland Europe and Orlando caused shock and grief around the world.

"As a government, we are resolute in protecting the way of life that we enjoy and cherish in this country.”

Police said the increase was in response to the latest assessments of the threat from terrorism and the use of firearms by home-based criminal gangs.

Police chiefs reiterated it was not being taken in response to any specific threat to Scotland, although the threat of terrorism to the UK overall has been classified as "severe" since August 2014.

Assistant Chief Constable Bernard Higgins said: "The threat level to the UK remains severe.

"There is no specific known threat to Scotland and this increase is not a response to any direct intelligence; but we must play our part in ensuring the safety and security of the whole of the UK.

"It would be dangerous and complacent to think that Scotland is any less at risk than the rest of the UK and this move helps enhance our response."

 

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