Page last updated at 12:07 GMT, Monday, 26 January 2009

Police 'slow' on firearm training

Armed police
Fewer than 4% of Scottish police are trained in the use of firearms

Police forces in Scotland have been "too slow" to implement new training guidelines on the use of firearms, according to inspectors.

A national standard was recommended by the Association of Chief Police Officers in Scotland (Acpos) in 2006.

But a review by Her Majesty's Chief Inspector of Constabulary in Scotland (HMICS) found the guidelines had still not been implemented.

The inspector urged forces to achieve "provisional status" within six months.

Paddy Tomkins said: "It's an unfortunate reality that improvements in the police use of firearms all too often follow shootings by the police.

"We in HMICS have conducted this inspection, not because of a specific incident but to ensure police use of firearms is as robust and evidence-based as possible.

The concern expressed in the report over the pace at which certain milestones in this area have been reached is shared by myself and my colleagues
Assistant Chief Constable
Colin Menzies
Acpos
"We recommend that all Scottish forces should work towards achieving the national police firearms training provisional licence within the next six months.

"This will require them to embrace the necessary scrutiny and improvement processes and collate important data to inform decisions about baseline and specialist services."

Assistant Chief Constable Colin Menzies, of Acpos, said the comments from HMICS "highlight a challenging area of our work".

"The concern expressed in the report over the pace at which certain milestones in this area have been reached is shared by myself and my colleagues," he said.

"A full report on what progress has been made and what plans are in place to speed up the journey towards full implementation of the recommendations will come before the operational policing business area within weeks and we will look at ways in which further and faster progress can be made.

Public reassurance

"The police use of firearms is a part of the continuing capacity and capability review within the Scottish Police Service.

"In the meantime, I would assure the public that the police in Scotland are well placed to respond to the threat of individuals who use firearms."

In Scotland, only those who volunteer and are trained for the role of authorised firearms officer can be issued with firearms.

The average percentage of firearms officers is 3.7% across Scotland.

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