Scottish Liberal Democrat South Scotland MSP Jim Hume has today hailed a decision by the Scottish Police Authority that will mean the ban on routinely armed policing is maintained as a victory for local communities.
In an eagerly awaited report into the issue, the SPA today said Police Scotland should not revert to the model of police officers overtly carrying sidearms whilst attending routine duties.
The recommendations vindicate many of the Scottish Liberal Democrats concerns about a national move to routinely armed policing. Jim Hume MSP campaigned continuously against the move, warning that the policies were being imposed on communities without their being told or given the opportunity to have a say.
The SPA report and the previous HMICS report have both shown that the SNP Government’s rush to introduce a national police force contributed in its failure to manage this controversial policy.
Jim Hume said: “This double-endorsement of Scottish Liberal Democrats opposition to routinely armed police – first by HMICS, and then by the SPA – is a victory for local communities. There will be no routinely armed police in South Scotland.
“We could never endorse a move which would undermine fundamentally the principle of policing by consent. This illiberal action was made worse by the manner in which it was forced upon communities.
“It is now evidently clear that the SNP Government’s rush to introduce a national police force contributed to these significant failings. Whilst it may have been politically convenient for them to stand by the mess of their own making, the SNP have been shown to have taken their eye off the ball in their defence of this unpopular policy.
“The SPA’s wider reflection on the handling of this issue shows that armed policing is a test case of ‘operational responsibility’. Much more work needs to be done to set out the operational boundaries and responsibilities if scrutiny is to be effective.”