Police Scotland to deploy officers with tasers to patrol Holyrood

Police stand guard outside the Scottish Parliament and the Palace of Holyrood House following a terrorist incident in Westminster. Picture: JP License.
Police stand guard outside the Scottish Parliament and the Palace of Holyrood House following a terrorist incident in Westminster. Picture: JP License.
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The body representing rank and file police officers has warned its members are not equipped to deal with a fast-moving terror attack amid heightened security at the Scottish Parliament.

Police Scotland said two officers carrying Tasers would be deployed to Holyrood as an interim measure with a review of anti-terror measures at the parliament now under way.

But the Scottish Police Federation (SPF), which represents 98 per cent of officers, said it was “disgraceful” that the vast majority of its members were being sent to incidents armed only with batons and incapacitant spray.

The SPF’s conference today heard calls for all officers to be equipped with Tasers and for an increase in the number of armed officers.

Calum Steele, general secretary of the SPF, said: “The message that came out loud and clear is that police officers do not have the equipment to be able to protect themselves and the public.

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“We know that batons don’t work, we know that in 40 per cent of cases spray doesn’t work, we know that unarmed police officers are not only sent to incidents of knives but also to reports of firearms. That’s a disgraceful position to find ourselves in and it’s unforgivable.”

Muslim convert Khalid Masood, 52, killed four people in an 82-second rampage in Westminster last Wednesday.

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It has now emerged that prior to security being stepped up in the hours after the Westminster attack, there were no armed officers on duty at Holyrood.

Police Scotland said two fully-trained firearms officers carrying Tasers only would now be deployed to Holyrood, with armed response vehicles (ARVs) patrolling “iconic and vulnerable sites” elsewhere in the country.

Deputy Chief Constable Johnny Gwynne said: “We have increased our presence at the parliament site at Holyrood.

“That is a sensible precaution, it is not in response to any direct threat.”

He insisted, when questioned, that it was not an admission the parliament was not secure enough before.

Asked whether all officers should be routinely armed with Tasers, Assistant Chief Constable Bernard Higgins said: “When we look at the threat level as we assess it across the country, my firm belief is that the number of officers we have trained in the use of Taser and firearms is proportionate to that level of threat.”