Kenny MacAskill pledge on armed police patrols

Police handguns. Picture: Ian Rutherford
Police handguns. Picture: Ian Rutherford
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Armed police will not routinely patrol Scottish streets, the Justice Secretary has told MSPs.

In a statement to parliament Kenny MacAskill said that if the proportion of armed police on patrol rose above two per cent, then Police Scotland Chief Constable Sir Stephen House would have to inform the Justice Secretary and the Scottish Police Authority.

MSPs listening to Mr MacAskill’s announcement demanded to know whether the decision to give guns to police on routine patrol had been taken before the roll-out of the national police force, but the Justice Secretary insisted it was not his responsibility because three of the previous police forces had the same policy.

Mr MacAskill said: “I believe and accept that the public understands and accepts that a small number of police officers are authorised to carry weapons.” Labour MSP Ken Macintosh, whose Eastwood constituency was also policed by Strathclyde, criticised the Justice Secretary’s “inability to point to any public discussion by any police board of this radical change of policy”.

Independent MSP John Finnie, an ex-policeman and former SNP MSP, added: “It’s inconceivable that a risk assessment would change at midnight for five of the constituent forces.”