John has welcomed Chief Constable Stephen House’s announcement that officers will no longer carry guns on routine, non-firearms incidents.
John, a former policeman, was the first MSP to challenge Police Scotland over the ‘standing firearms authority’ issued last April which saw armed attending on routine duties such as the Highland Cross charity race.
John has twice questioned Justice Minister Kenny MacAskill on how the decision to routinely arm officers was taken – during a Topical Questions session in May, and after Mr MacAskill’s statement on the issue in August. John also and raised the issue at the Parliament’s Police Committee (Official Report PDF) which took evidence from the Scottish Police Authority (SPA) and HM Inspectorate of Constabulary in Scotland (HMICS).
In June, the Chief Constable dismissed criticism as “mischievous,” and described the change as not being “the big issue people say it is” .
But Police Scotland have just announced that “the Chief Constable has directed that firearms officers attached to Armed Response Vehicles will now only be deployed to firearms incidents or where there is a threat to life.”
“I welcome the fact that Police Scotland has responded to legitimate public concerns about armed officers walking about our towns and villages, and changed their firearms policy.
“It is a great relief that armed police officers will no longer be seen on our streets dealing with routine police business as this was having a negative impact on community relations.
“We still need to understand how this significant change, thankfully reversed, happened in the first place.
“In the meantime, credit to Police Scotland for getting their guns off our streets.”