WHEN those charged with enabling the public to feel safe themselves feel unsafe, it may be argued that we have a major problem on our hands. That, at first glance, would appear to be the case when one considers a survey from the Scottish Police Federation, which indicates that almost two-thirds of respondents want to have access to a handgun, a figure that rises to three-quarters among officers within the 25 to 34 age group. The report states: “Younger officers, those most likely to be working in response roles, clearly articulate the risk they feel from firearms and edged weapons.”

It is important to note that this is not a renewed call for the routine arming of our police, which has rightly caused consternation when previously discussed. And it may be we might have to consider the model currently employed in Norway, where handguns can by quickly accessed by any trained officer.

First, though, we must look to ameliorate the feelings of vulnerability felt by the officer on the frontline. That may be through increasing the efficiency of protective equipment, such as body armour, batons and leg restraints, or through working to decrease the level of gun and knife crime through a more punitive sentencing regime. Above all, though, we must ensure that any officer accessing a weapon, no matter the situation, is given the highest level of training possible.

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