Anorak News | Should Britsh Police All Get Guns?

Should Britsh Police All Get Guns?

by | 10th, May 2007

PC David Coppefield looks at whether or not British police officers should be routinely armed:

Whenever an officer is killed in the line of duty in anything other than a car accident, the question is often asked whether we should give up an important tradition and carry guns. There’s two questions that, while appearing similar, often get quite different answers.

The first question is, “Do you think the police should be armed?” To which the reply is mostly, “No”. Most officers don’t want to be armed, because most officers don’t do a dangerous job. Only a relatively small number of officers are given the task of leaving the police station in order to deal with the public. What’s more, those officers are often young (in both age and service) and can easily be ignored by those in charge. Most importantly, of all the things that the police do, leaving the station and dealing with the public are at the bottom of the list (accurate record keeping, meetings and keeping the station clean are all more important). A recent report on Police Assaults by Grant Shapps MP shows one officer assaulted every 20 minutes, but when you think about how many of your colleagues last left the station, you begin to realise how the total number of those assaults isn’t remotely evenly distributed.

The second question is, “Would you like to carry a gun”. This gets far more positive responses, mainly because the question doesn’t address the practical issue of how all the police officers could be trained. Nevertheless, it’s interesting to note how many officers place such little faith in their current training and equipment.

As for me, carrying a gun wouldn’t bother me in the slightest. I’m not sure it would really address the issue though. A reader tells me that at the time of the shooting (6am Sunday 6th May) there were a grand total of seven officers with no air cover and no dog cover on duty in the whole of the Shropshire division, which has a population of 289,000 people, most of whom I admit, probably weren’t about to shoot a police officer. Naturally, I can’t vouch for any of this, but from my own experience, (and I admit that West Mercia might be totally different) it doesn’t seem too wide of the mark.

The solution to officer safety doesn’t lie in giving officers guns. It depends on both the government and senior officers accepting that policing is about more than file building, detections and graphs that go in the required direction.

Posted: 10th, May 2007 | In: Reviews Comment | TrackBack | Permalink