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Survey reveals half of police officers willing to be armed

25 September 2017

A SURVEY by the Police Federation has found that an increasing number of officers support the idea of carrying a firearm.

These were the findings from a national firearms survey by the Police Federation of England and Wales, the first since 2006. Just over a third (34 per cent) personally supported the idea of routine arming, compared to 23 per cent in 2006, but 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. This was an increase from 44.6 per cent in 2006.

The greatest support, 42.5 per cent, was for firearms to not be issued routinely to all officers, but for more to receive training and be issued with firearms as and when needed.

Police Federation of England and Wales chair Steve White 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.”

Similar to the 2006 results, male officers (41 per cent compared to 16 per cent of female officers), those in urban locations (40 per cent) and officers in frontline roles e.g. roads policing officers (48 per cent) and response officers (42 per cent) are more supportive of routine arming.

Figures also highlighted officers were concerned that armed support would not be readily available should they require it, with more than half (56 per cent) raising this, up 13 percentage points since 2006. The survey showed a significant proportion of officers wanting improved access to protective measures and equipment at all times on duty. This included double crewing (68.4 per cent), Body Worn Video (78.1 per cent) and Taser (74.6 per cent).

The Police Federation 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.

Mr White added: “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.”