John Questions Scottish Government on Firearms Officers

Below is John’s question to the Scottish Government on January 22nd 2014.
John Finnie (Highlands and Islands) (Ind):

9. To ask the Scottish Government how many authorised police firearms officers there are. (S4O-02815)

The Cabinet Secretary for Justice (Kenny MacAskill): That is a matter for Police Scotland, but I understand that there are currently 440 authorised police firearms officers in Scotland.

John Finnie: I thank the cabinet secretary for that reply. Her Majesty’s inspectorate of constabulary’s 2009 report said that the Police Scotland aligns itself with the Home Office forces and complies “voluntarily with these standards”. The standards that are referred to are those that are laid out in the Home Office’s 2003 “Code of Practice on Police use of Firearms and Less Lethal Weapons”. Can the cabinet secretary advise—either now, or later in writing—whether that is still the case? In particular, with regard to the Independent Police Complaints Commission’s advice to Scotland Yard on the “hard stop” tactic, has the advice been acted on in Scotland? Also, will the cabinet secretary join me in calling for a review of police firearms tactics and of the number of officers who are deployed carrying Taser guns but are not authorised firearms officers?

Kenny MacAskill: Fundamentally, those are matters for the Scottish Police Authority, but I am happy to try to drill down to ensure that John Finnie’s comments are raised and answers are provided, either by the chief constable himself or by HM inspector of constabulary.

The Government believes that the rare use of firearms of Scotland is reasonable and proportionate. However, it is necessary for the safety of our communities. John Finnie’s point about Taser guns has been brought up not only by the police and HM inspector of constabulary, but by the Police Investigations and Review Commissioner, so I think that there has been a suitable review in that regard. However, I will endeavour to come back to John Finnie on that. I am happy to meet him to discuss the issue further.