Poll reveals police support for Tasers but no clamour for regular firearms


Nearly half of officers at Britain's largest police force believe its firearms capacity should be boosted, a staff survey suggests.

However, the poll indicates that there is little appetite across the Metropolitan Police's ranks for routinely carrying guns while on duty.

Rank-and-file leaders launched the survey to gauge attitudes towards firearms amid the enduring threat from terrorism in the capital.

Almost 11,000 officers completed the Metropolitan Police Federation's questionnaire over three weeks last month.

The results show that only 6% of those polled believe there is currently an "adequate" quantity of gun-carrying officers in the capital, according to the federation. 

Almost half of respondents (43.6%) stated there should be more specialist firearms officers in the Met - but not all officers should be routinely armed.

One in four (26%) said they believe all police officers should be routinely armed, while 12% said they would not carry a firearm on duty under any circumstances.

Last year Scotland Yard announced plans to increase the number of firearms officers on hand to protect the capital by 600 in the wake of the Paris attacks in November 2015.

The poll also indicated strong support for increasing the number of personnel who carry Tasers. 

Three in four respondents (75%) indicated they believe all Met Police officers should be issued with the stun guns while on duty, while just under a quarter (24%) took the opposite stance. 

Ken Marsh, chairman of the Met Police Federation, said: "We live in dangerous and unpredictable times.

"London is a major world capital and our members are tasked with keeping the millions who live here and tourists who flock to visit the city safe and secure.

"It is more important than ever that Metropolitan Police officers have the right equipment to keep themselves, their colleagues and the public safe.

"And also that we have the right number of officers with that equipment available when they are required."

He added: "We often hear people talk about what police officers want and we can now say with some certainty that our members feel that more Met Police Officers should be carrying a Taser on London streets.

"We can also say that we know their views on the prospect of being armed."

Most police personnel in the UK are unarmed but the question of whether officers should carry guns as a matter of course has been debated for decades, and the issue has come under scrutiny again after recent atrocities in Europe.

Previous research has suggested the majority of police are opposed to any change in approach, but surveys of members of the public have proved less conclusive.