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Last Updated: Sunday, 20 November 2005, 09:18 GMT
Debate over whether to arm police
Armed police officers
Should carrying guns become the norm for police officers?
A former senior police representative has opposed arming all officers in the wake of the Bradford police shooting.

Lord Brian Mackenzie - former president of the Superintendents' Association of England and Wales - said the move risked making violence worse.

Citing time spent with the American FBI, he said officers often were shot with their own weapons by attackers.

"And of course you have more risk of accidents and innocent people get shot," he told Radio Five Live.

On Saturday, Home Office minister Hazel Blears also rejected calls for officers to be routinely armed, saying it could endanger the police's relationship with the public.

How much longer can this go on? Would criminals not think twice when faced by a police officer holding a firearm? Arm them now, give them the protection they deserve
John Mizon, York

Ms Blears said what happened in Bradford highlighted "the fact that police officers right across the country put their lives on the line in many cases in order to protect the rest of us".

In the wake of the Bradford shooting, the Police Federation has called for more armed response units.

"When we did a survey three years ago of all police officers, over 80% of police officers said they did not believe that every police officer should be routinely armed," Ms Blears told BBC News.

"They did, however, express concern that not sufficient officers were trained to carry firearms.

"I do think that the resilience of the police officers, in terms of having enough firearms officers, is extremely questionable at the moment and that will need to be properly debated."

'Informed debate'

Pc Norman Brennan, director of Protect the Protectors, welcomed an "informed debate" and a ballot of all officers on "the full time arming of the British police service".

of course you have more risk of accidents and innocent people get shot
Lord Mackenzie
Former Superintendents' Association president

"The adage that if you arm the police more criminals will carry guns is nonsense.

"The police service are being outgunned on the streets of Britain day and night."

Film director Michael Winner, founder of the Police Memorial Trust, is among the most vocal advocates of guns for all officers.

"The criminals are armed with guns and knives, with weapons that kill the police and I think they should have a better chance of retaliation," he said.

However, Metropolitan Police Commissioner Sir Ian Blair has said 90% of the Met is unarmed and he "wants to keep it that way".

Chris Fox, president of the Association of Chief Police Officers, called on the courts to issue stiffer punishments to offenders caught carrying weapons.

"They should get the very maximum sentences - throw away the key, for me," he said.

Should the Police be armed?
Yes, all Police Officers should be armed
More Officers should be armed after special training
No, the number of armed Officers is high enough
16708 Votes Cast
Results are indicative and may not reflect public opinion
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