Armed police attended thousands of incidents when not required, reports say

Firearms police have attended thousands of incidents in Scotland which did not require an armed response, according to reports.

Specialist officers were banned from attending all but the most serious incidents until May 2018.

BBC Scotland’s The Nine now reports they have since dealt with 5,250 routine operations such as road crashes, break-ins and drug seizures.

The news programme says this is on top of 5,140 incidents where armed officers were needed.

Chief Superintendent Matt Richards, commander of Police Scotland’s Specialist Services Division, told The Nine: “Our armed response officers are extremely highly trained.

“Overall they’re providing a higher level of service – and more quickly – to the public.”

Mr Richards added the use of firearms is always a “last resort”, saying that in his experience even the presence of a Taser had “caused a huge drop in violence and in particular injuries to the public”.

Firearms officers are equipped with a handgun and a Taser, which they carry while attending routine incidents.

They also have access to a semi-automatic G36 carbine rifle, which can be deployed during firearms incidents and a launcher for so-called rubber bullets.

Green MSP John Finnie is a former police officer who served in the Northern Constabulary and Lothian and Borders forces for more than 30 years.

His constituency was among the first in Scotland where armed police were routinely deployed.

He told the show: “That’s 5,000 members of the public who have been confronted – albeit they would welcome the police officer being at the scene – by somebody who was armed who didn’t need to be armed.

“The people who are deployed with firearms are highly-trained individuals – the challenge is always going to be that if an officer has a Taser they’re perhaps more likely to use it.”

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