Officers to patrol Holyrood with Tasers, amid claims Scottish police couldn't cope with fast-moving terror attack

Auslan Cramb
Chief Constable Phil Gormley talks with police officers armed with Tasers outside the Scottish Parliament - PA

Police patrolling outside the Scottish Parliament are to carry Tasers in the wake of the Westminster terror attack.

However, calls for all officers to be armed with Tasers have been rejected, amid claims that Police Scotland is not equipped to respond to a fast-moving attack such as last week's terrorist incident in London.

MSPs and Holyrood staff were told about the move in advance of an announcement from the force.

The change, which is not based on any known intelligence threat, follows the attack by the terrorist Khalid Masood, who killed four people in an 82-second rampage in London last week.

The calls for all officers to have Tasers, and for more armed officers, came from rank and file members at the Scottish Police Federation conference.

They were rejected by Deputy Chief Constable Johnny Gwynne, who told BBC Scotland the police response to terrorism and organised crime needed to be more nuanced and depended, to a large extent, on community co-operation.

The use of Tasers at Holyrood was not linked to intelligence information Credit: PA

The emergency motion conference whether the fight against terrorism risked being undermined by cuts to the policing budget and whether officers have enough personal equipment - including firearms - to be able to protect themselves in the event of a terrorist incident.

Calum Steele, head of the SPF, claimed officers did not have the equipment to protect themselves or the public.

Speaking afterwards he added: “We know that batons don't work, we know that in 40 per cent of cases spray doesn't work, we know that unarmed police officers are not only sent to incidents of knives but also to reports of firearms. That's a disgraceful position to find ourselves in and it's unforgivable.

"The events at Westminster took place in less than 90 seconds and were able to be brought to an end because hundreds of officers were in the vicinity.

Calum Steele said Scottish officers were not equipped to respond to a fast-moving terrorist attack Credit: PA

"No police force in the world can stop those kind of events, but police should be given the equipment they need to protect themselves and the public if events unfold quickly.

"We don't have anything that would allow us to deal with the immediacy of a very quick attack such as that which unfolded in London."

During the discussion, delegate Chris Thomson called for a complete review of how officers deal with threats from weapons, saying: "Now is the time for all officers to have at least a Taser and more divisional firearms officers carrying a handgun.

"It won't stop all attacks but it will be a better defence than we currently have.

"We don't have all the tools to deal with two neds stabbing each other, never mind a terrorist attack like we saw. Our tactics are wrong and out of date."

David Hamilton, vice-chair of the SPF, suggested looking to the Norwegian policing model where all officers are firearms trained and have a gun safely locked away in their car.

He said: "We need to be able to stand up our response quickly and we're totally ill-equipped for that. We need to have more in the bank."

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