Survey finds increased support for police arming

A survey by the Police Federation of England and Wales has found that over a third of police officers in England and Wales believe they should be able to carry guns at all times.

The survey of 32,000 officers saw an increase for armed policing from its last survey, back in 2006. When the body last conducted firearms research, 23.4 per cent of officers backed routine arming, but this figure has now risen to 34.1 per cent.

Additionally, 55.2 per cent said they would be prepared to carry a firearm if it was decided all officers should be armed on or off duty, an increase from 44.6 per cent in 2006. Firearms to not be issued routinely to all officers, but for more to receive training and be issued with firearms as and when needed was backed by 42.5 per cent of officers.

The figures suggest that support for routine arming is higher among male officers than female, and also more appealing in urban locations. Frontline officers and response officers were also found to be more in favour of the move.

Steve White, chair of the Police Federation of England and Wales, said: “Considering the threats we now face, the resources we don’t have and the demand we can’t meet, we expected to see an increase in support for routine arming. Despite the atrocities seen this year, a terror threat that only goes up, never down, and prolonged pressure heaped on officers, they still hold on to the principle of policing by consent, with two thirds of officers not wishing to be routinely armed if given the choice.

“Firearms officers have not escaped the savage cuts to police numbers across the service since 2010. Only now are we seeing those levels return because of the need for this specialist skill. Let’s face facts, we live in dangerous times. We have seen a huge increase in the number of forces providing officers with improved protective equipment, but their hands are often tied by government purse strings. We will use the results of this survey to inform, lobby and direct the changes our member’s desire and deserve, to not only keep themselves safe but help achieve their number one priority in keeping the public safe.”

The Police Federation of England and Wales is continuing to call for improved access to equipment for officers through its Protect the Protectors campaign, something that will see the second reading of a Private Members Bill in parliament on October 20 2017.

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