Call for closer scrutiny on arming of police officers in Fife

Concern over armed police
Concern over armed police

A mounting outcry over Police Scotland’s controversial policy to allow officers to carry guns to everyday incidents has sparked unrest in Fife.

Councillor Kenny Selbie, chairman of Fife Council’s safer communities committee, has written to Chief Superintendent Garry McEwan after colleagues expressed concern about the policy’s impact in the Kingdom.

“The attendance of police officers with firearms at routine incidents has been raised as a concern in various parts of Scotland over the past few weeks,” he said.

“I have personally received a number of queries with regard to the situation in Fife, and I have therefore written to the Chief Superintendent of Fife Division for Police Scotland to clarify the specific impact here in our local communities.”

“It is important to understand how national policy may impact on Fife in the future, and so I have also asked for clarification on the numbers of officers trained in the use of firearms, and if this is increasing.

“Armed police response is clearly necessary in specific circumstances, however it is important as part of scrutiny that we monitor this situation closely to ensure that it remains proportionate.”

Last week, the HM Inspectorate of Scotland announced it would carry out a review of the policy while the Scottish police authority will undertake a “scrutiny inquiry” of the practice.

The announcement comes after months of mounting pressure with officers across Scotland photographed carrying loaded guns in supermarkets and other everyday environments.

A spokesman for Police Scotland would not be drawn on the exact number of armed police officers in Fife due to “operational reasons” adding the merger of regional constabularies effectively meant all resources were being shared across the country.

It is understood that Cllr Selbie, who also took the opportunity to query whether police officers in Fife are subject to targets in relation to road traffic policing, is expecting a response to his letter tomorrow (Friday).

How many guns are out there?

Across Scotland, 275 officers are authorised to carry arms.

That represents 1.6 per cent of 17,000 personnel in Scotland, compared to 2.4 per cent in England and Wales.

A spokesman said: “They are first and foremost police officers so when they are not doing specialist duties, then they support local policing on regular duties.”