This month, The Metropolitan Police Federation, an organisation representing 30,000 police officers in London, is asking its members if they want to carry a gun. This follows the recent terror attacks in Europe.
Scotland Yard is not in favour of this and I agree. I think it would be a mistake and a very un-British thing to do yet it’s important that we consider very carefully the views of serving police officers who ultimately are the ones who place themselves in danger to protect us.
Here in Britain we have highly skilled and specialised armed officers. This specialism reduces the numbers of mistakes that are made. Between March 2015 and March 2016, there were only seven incidents where British Police discharged their firearms, despite nearly 4,000 police firearms operations during this period.
In the USA it is very different. Last year 963 people were shot and killed by police there and 64 police officers were shot and killed in 2016.
I think having armed police in the UK would lead to a huge rise in the number of guns being used. It would also stop many able people joining the force, either because they are opposed to having to carry a gun or simply because they fail to get into the force because they can’t shoot to an adequate standard.
Here in Britain we are lucky to have such an approachable police force, arm them and that would change. I also believe if the police become armed, more criminals will arm themselves and more people will die. In countries where the local police force are armed there are regular accounts of depressed police officers using their guns to commit suicide with and numerous reports of police officers being overpowered and shot with their own weapons.
In Kent, we have a Police and Crime Commissioner who doesn’t want to see the police armed and I agree with him. Whilst we need to regularly review the situation and it is right that we have armed police available, I hope, when the survey results are revealed, it will show the police don’t want to go down the route of being routinely armed.