Dumfries and Galloway Council has today responded to Police Scotland as part of the Scottish Police Authority’s scrutiny enquiry into deploying armed police throughout the region.
Police Scotland has allowed its complement of trained Armed Response Vehicle (ARV) police officers (approx. 275 officers) to deploy to routine incidents with visible firearms across Scotland.
In response to the public debate around this decision, the Scottish Police Authority (SPA) and HM Inspectorate of Constabulary in Scotland (HMICS) have been conducting a complementary programme of review and inquiry. The Authority invited the Council and Elected Members to share their experiences, views and opinions as part of the enquiry process. The SPA inquiry will then draw together both its own evidence and that of the HMICS assurance review, and report with overall findings and recommendations to the full Authority at its public meeting on 17 December.
In response, Dumfries and Galloway Council has raised a number of concerns with the decision in relation to the community impact of armed policing and the consultation process carried out by Police Scotland.
Councillor John Syme, Chairman of Police, Fire and Rescue Sub-Committee said “We appreciate the hard work police officers in Dumfries and Galloway do every day to make our region one of the safest in Scotland. The latest Community Safety Survey indicated that 93.5% of the public are satisfied with policing in our region. However, there are uncertainties from Elected Members and the public as to whether or not the risk of crime in Dumfries and Galloway justifies the visible carrying of weapons. While there have been past incidences in our region which have required an armed police response these have thankfully been rare. The move to deploy armed police to routine incidents is a step change which could potentially make us assume we are less safe than before.
“The Council is also concerned at the lack of a formal consultation and engagement process over this issue. While Elected Members were informed on the potential for ARV Police Officers to be deployed at routine areas, we do not believe this constitutes a proper consultation process.
“Dumfries and Galloway would continue to encourage the Local Commander to communicate any implementation which changes the way in which the service will be delivered. Police Scotland has not made the case for officers carrying weapons routinely in our region. The public were unaware of a decision and once educated it has become clear that a ‘one size fits all’ has been made for the whole of Scotland. Police Scotland should actively and urgently engage with Elected Members, Community Councils and the public on this serious issue to find ways to harness the natural goodwill that exists towards the police in Dumfries and Galloway.”