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Region to get more armed police

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By Fiona Reid
Region to get more armed police

A DECISION to increase the number of armed police in the region has prompted a call for caution.

Police Scotland have confirmed Dumfries and Galloway will be included in the national increase, where numbers will rise by a third – from 275 to 399.
Having spoken out in 2013 when it was first revealed armed police would be routinely patrolling the region, and sometimes involved in routine policing, Liberal Democrat councillor Richard Brodie said: “It’s contrary to how Britain’s been policed since the start of the police force.
“We should have a situation where armed police can be mobilised quickly, but I think that recent incidents such as in France and Belgium show that having armed police on the streets hasn’t prevented terrorism attacks.”
Police Scotland Assistant Chief Constable Bernard Higgins says the increase is to ‘enhance the capacity and capability across the country in response to any emerging threat’.
The decision has been made by the Chief Constable, follows discussions with The Scottish Police Authority and Scottish Government, and comes after plans for extra firearms officers in England and Wales.
And the move is attributed to the latest assessments of threat from terrorism and criminal use of firearms, with Mr Higgins noting the UK threat level remains at ‘severe’.
He said: “It would be dangerously complacent to think that Scotland is any less at risk than the rest of the UK and this move helps enhance our response.”
Police Scotland say every Scottish division, including Dumfries and Galloway, will be covered by this increase.
However, a statement said: “We will not discuss the detail of how officers operating in Armed Response Vehicles (ARVs) are deployed; our approach is built on a need to protect all communities from risk and threat whether they are rural or urban.
“Armed officers carry firearms so their unarmed colleagues do not have to and they provide protection to them.”
Councillor Brodie says he hopes the move will be discussed by the Scottish Parliament.
And while stating the security of the country is paramount, he said: “We’ve got to be careful how we deploy police on a routine basis.”
The increase is expected to be complete by spring/summer 2017.


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