There has been an increase in the number of armed police officers in Highlands and Islands. Armed officers have attended routine, non-firearms-related incidents. Police say that this is done following a risk assessment, but have so far refused to disclose the reasons for their decisions.
Following a meeting of Parliament's Committee on Policing on Thursdays 29 May 2014 John Finnie MSP (Independent, Highlands and Islands) said:
“The Committee considered my request to examine the changed policy which sees armed police officers deployed on our streets at routine incidents and agreed to write to the Police Authority regarding any oversight they may have had into this significant policy change and to Police Scotland to clarify a number of issues relating to the arming of police.
“Following receipt of the replies the Committee will consider what further action, if any, to take.
“I have already written to the Assistant Chief Constable responsible for Firearms policy and remain deeply sceptical of the timing of the change.
“As things stand, so long as the police hide behind the confidentiality of the information underpinning their risk assessment they say justifies this change, then there is nothing to prevent significant numbers of officer being armed with elected politicians simply being told the reason is ‘confidential’. I don’t think that’s any way to police a liberal democracy.
“I look forward to reading some comfort in the replies from the Police Authority and the Police but am not holding my breath.”