The UK is one of the few nations in the world where the majority of their police officers do not carry a firearm while on duty.
But all of that could soon change.
The issue has been a source of almost constant concern in recent days because of a rise in crime and more specifically because of the increased danger posed by radical Islamic terrorism.
It’s a sad debate for the UK who have a long history of unarmed police, but it’s indicative of the day and age in which we live. Back in January the police union polled officers working in Metro London and found that 75% of them believed that every officer should be issued a taser, and just about half of the officers felt that they should all be carrying a firearm as well.
This is a dramatic shift for a police force that has been mostly unarmed for more than 100 years.
Ken Marsh, the chairman of the Metropolitan Police Federation, said that the survey of London police showed that the city should double the number of specially trained firearms officers.
“We’re in a far more dangerous society than we have ever been and so we have to have the correct equipment to deal with that,” said Marsh, who cited the attack in Nice last July, in which Lahouaiej-Bouhlel was shot dead after killing 86 people.
“If you take the lorry in Nice for example, that drove into crowds of people, my cops are not armed and they would not have been able to respond like the French police did, and instead would have had to make a call.
“We’re not asking for mandatory arming of all officers, but what they are asking for is for more specially-trained officers. We have to stick to the stringent criteria and the criteria for handling a firearm in the UK is still the toughest in the world.”
The questionnaire, circulated over three weeks last month and answered by a third of the 31,000 Met officers, found that 43.6% wanted more firearms personnel.
A total of 26% thought officers should be routinely armed, compared with the 20% who said so in an England and Wales-wide survey last year; 12% said they never want to carry a firearm on duty under any circumstances…
Marsh, a former Tottenham police constable of 22 years, also wants extra investment in stun guns, and added: “If you look at the last two to three years, the number of assaults on police are going up unrecognisably.
“The average constable doesn’t hold the same authority. When I was a child, you didn’t dare blink at a police officer.”
On the heels of the stunning results of the London police poll, the British government now plans on polling police from across the nation and in Wales as well.
In the first national police staff survey for more than a decade, 120,000 rank-and-file officers will be polled on the issue of firearms.
Britain’s police officers are routinely unarmed unlike several other countries in the world where it is commonplace for cops to carry large guns.
In recent months the issue has been thrust into the spotlight after a spate of terror attacks in London and Manchester.
One key concern has to do with police shootings which the government worries could grow to become a problem in much the way it has in the United States.
Whatever happens next, it’s clear that radical Islamic terrorism is having a more profound effect on our societies than our politicians would like to believe. When an entire nation is forced to rethink policing policies that have been in effect for well over a century, something has gone terribly wrong.