Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Why UK Should Look at Arming Its Police Force; Opinion

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Why UK Should Look at Arming Its Police Force; Opinion

Article excerpt

Byline: Chris Fraser OBE

AS a former member of a routinely armed police force in what was British Hong Kong (a major world city where the 30,000+ strong force is still routinely armed and still employs a number of British officers) it is difficult to fathom the increasingly fragile arguments for not arming the forces in Great Britain at a time when once again the headlines unfortunately demonstrate that the system is out of date and that police officers and more importantly, members of the public, are increasingly at risk from violent crime or disorder.

Searching for other countries with similar societies and challenges where unarmed forces operate is not an easy task and only Norway (where the force has come under intense criticism for their response to the recent disaster where a single individual claimed the lives of so many), New Zealand (where apparently there are more sheep than people), Iceland and several mainly tiny former British Island Republics are apparently unarmed. In other words Britain stands virtually alone in this respect but does not stand alone in terms of the violent threats to the public.

Holstered side arms carried routinely by police officers are merely part of the uniform and the argument that the public is not willing to approach officers so armed simply does not stack up. "Community Policing", a phrase so beloved by the British police hierarchy (even as London burned in the recent riots) can be practised whether or not arms are carried and in HK , for example, relations between the police and the public are first class and the carrying of side arms is immaterial in this respect. Such is the case too in many countries round the globe where the public depends on the police to protect them from criminal elements and are happy that they have the means to do so. At the same time, carrying arms is a definite deterrent to the "bad guys" who are unsurprisingly much less willing to attack trained police officers who can shoot back. And, training is the key to unwarranted incidents involving gun carrying officers.

Accepting that the USA is a different case because of the constitutional right to bear arms and the proliferation of weapons on the streets in some cities and accepting that the issue of armed police in GB is a political hot potato which is not going to change until a different generation of officers lead the multiplicity of forces here, nevertheless this issue is not going to go away and it is predictable and inevitable that routinely armed police officers in UK as a whole will be the norm at some point. …

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