Probe into police carrying guns

A panel will investigate the decision to allow police to carry guns. Picture: Ian Rutherford

A panel will investigate the decision to allow police to carry guns. Picture: Ian Rutherford

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AN ethics panel will probe the controversial decision allowing police to carry handguns in Scotland.

Mounting pressure over firearms, and stop and search has prompted police chiefs in Scotland to hire two watchdogs.

The Scottish Police Authority (SPA) will carry out an inquiry, while HM Inspectorate of Constabulary in Scotland (HMICS) will undertake its own review.

Concern has been growing since it emerged chief constable Sir Stephen House had issued a “standing authority” allowing a number of officers to carry guns. Police have defended the measures, but questions were raised after armed officers were seen responding to routine incidents.

The proposed Ethical Advisory Panel is expected to be chaired by a former chief officer, and will discuss tasers, high-visibility armed patrols and the stop-and-search of under-16s.

Derek Penman, HM Inspector of Constabulary in Scotland, said: “This review provides an opportunity to make an objective, professional assessment on whether the operation decision-making by Police Scotland on the standing authority for firearms has followed the relevant guidance, and that any conclusion is supported by the prevailing threat, risk and available intelligence.”

Iain Whyte, chairman of the SPA scrutiny inquiry, added: “We have acknowledged that the issue of armed policing is a contentious one.”