'Public want to see gun cops on street'

SCOTS want armed police on the streets to keep communities safe, according to a top firearms boss.

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Police say the public want to see more armed police
Police say the public want to see more armed police

Assistant Chief Constable Bernard Higgins said he believes the public support Police Scotland's decision to deploy armed police to routine incidents.

He told the Evening Times: "Would people rather that firearms officers sat behind their desk, waiting for a firearms incident, rather than attending other incidents and keeping people safe?

"The public support us and our firearms officers, who are trained to the highest degree.

"There has been no outcry from the public, we don't see it, and there hasn't been a tidal wave of complaints either.

"The way this issue is being portrayed is completely inaccurate."

Mr Higgins also revealed that only around one per cent of Police Scotland police officers are qualified to carry semi-automatic pistols.

There are only 250 armed officers in the 17,000 strong Scottish force.

Defending the decision to have armed officers attend routine incidents, Mr Higgins said it is the "right thing to do".

He added: "There is a firearms threat in Scotland and we need firearms officers to provide protection to the public.

"The number of officers is directly proportionate to the threat of firearms across Scotland."

Questions have also been asked at Holyrood about the routine arming of police.

His comments came after Police Scotland bosses faced criticism when armed officers attended a bus crash in Glasgow city centre.

Three passengers were taken to hospital after the incident in the city's busy Argyle Street.

Officers - who were wearing holstered weapons - went out of their way to help the three elderly woman injured in the crash.

Mr Higgins said: "The officers were flagged down by a member of the public, they would never just say, "Oh sorry, we can't help because we're armed officers".

"I would expect the officers to have done that, if not, I would have been furious."

rebecca.gray@ eveningtimes.co.uk

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