On a summer Saturday night in Inverness, a fight broke out between two men outside a fast-food restaurant, and three police officers turned up to stop the trouble.
All three policemen should have been unarmed: that’s the fundamental rule of British policing since 1829. Our police go unarmed except for a concealed truncheon. And that has been the rule for nearly two centuries: firearms are carried as an exception, only on specific occasions when a senior officer decides guns will be necessary.
But each of the three policemen who showed up to stop the fight in Inverness were carrying handguns, identified as Glock 17 semi-automatic pistols.
Police Scotland says that these officers – and 272 others – represent less than 2% of the total force, that armed police officers won’t routinely be patrolling the beat, and that
By having a small number of specialist armed officers available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, this means that if the need does arise, we are ready.