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Last Updated: Tuesday, 16 May 2006, 08:14 GMT 09:14 UK
Police facing major knife threat
Knives
Knives remain the biggest threat to police safety
Thousands of police officers in England and Wales have been threatened with a knife or gun on duty, figures show.

The Police Federation research reveals 7,000 officers have been threatened with a gun and 40,000 a knife, in the last two years.

More than four out of five police officers on the beat wants to see greater numbers of firearms officers.

A higher proportion want to see stun guns used more widely but support for becoming armed themselves remains low.

The research was prompted by the murder of Pc Sharon Beshenivsky in Bradford last year and has been released at the start of the annual conference of the Police Federation, which represents officers from constables to chief inspectors.

More than 7,000 police officers are telling us that in the last two years they have been threatened with a gun
Jan Berry
Police Federation

Extrapolating from these statistics to police forces as a whole, the federation said around 7,000 police officers had been threatened with a gun in the last two years.

The figures also show 40,000 have faced a knife and 50,000 have contended with threats related to another type of weapon.

The federation, which represents frontline police officers, commissioned researchers to poll its 141,000 members, of whom 47,000 replied.

Despite these findings, only 23.4% said officers should carry guns, compared with 22% when the federation last sought its members opinions on the subject.

Federation chairman Jan Berry said: "Following the tragic murder of Pc Sharon Beshenivsky last year, a number of officers were critical that we hadn't asked their view.

"We decided that we would survey everyone."

Research found 89% wanted to see use of stun guns, or Tasers, extended while 45% wanted more officers trained to use the implement that temporarily disables using a high-voltage shock.

Knife amnesty

Currently only specially-trained firearms officers are allowed to carry Tasers.

Mrs Berry said police officers wanted more firearms officers to be available when needed.

The number of authorised firearms officers was under 5% but should be 5-8%, she said, and possibly higher in some urban areas.

A five-week national knife amnesty, which will allow people to hand in the weapons without fear of prosecution, will run from 24 May to 30 June.

Home Office Minister Liam Byrne said: "[It will] send out the strong message that carrying knives on our streets will not be tolerated and there are tough penalties in place for those that do."


BBC NEWS: VIDEO AND AUDIO
Survey shows most police do not favour carrying arms



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04 May 06 |  West Yorkshire


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