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Surrey Police Federation

Increased support for routing arming of police officers

16 October 2017

POLICE officers are showing increased support for routine arming, a new survey has shown, with more than half of the service saying they would be prepared to carry a gun if they were instructed to do so.

Just over a third of the rank-and-file (34%) said they supported the idea of routine arming, compared to 23% when the survey was last carried out in 2006. And more than half of officers (55%) said they would be prepared to carry a firearm if it was decided all officers should be armed on or off duty. This was an increase from 44.6% in 2006.

The Police Federation of England and Wales surveyed its members in the light of recent cuts to firearms departments and the increased terrorist threat facing the UK.

Four in 10 officers said they would want firearms not to be issued routinely to all officers, but for more to receive training and be issued with firearms as and when needed.

Male officers were more in favour of routine arming: 41%, compared to 16% female officers. Those in urban locations (40%) and officers in frontline roles such as roads policing (48%) and response officers (42%) also showed more support.

This leaves two thirds of officers indicating that they do not wish to be routinely armed if given the choice.

Figures also highlighted officers were concerned that armed support would not be readily available should they require it, with more than half (56%) raising this, up 13 percentage points since 2006.

Many officers expressed that they wanted better access to protective equipment and technology with 75% of respondents saying they wanted more officers to be equipped with Taser.

The survey showed a significant proportion of officers wanting improved access to protective measures and equipment at all times on duty, including double crewing (68%) and Body-Worn Video (78%).

The Police Federation of England and Wales is continuing to call for improved access to equipment for officers through its #ProtectTheProtectors campaign. A Private Members’ Bill on the subject will have its second reading in parliament on 20 October.

The PFEW said the results of its survey would be used to inform, lobby and direct the changes among the public and the Government.