More Armed Officers For Scotland

16 June 2016, 15:47 | Updated: 16 June 2016, 15:48

The number of routinely-armed officers working within Police Scotland is to increase by a third

The force currently has 275 officers attached to armed response vehicles, and has announced plans to add a further 90 to that capability.

The change, expected to be in place by the spring or summer of next year, will lift the number of routinely-armed officers to 365, a jump of about a third.

Overall, the force is to boost the number of officers within armed policing by 124 - that's a figure which also includes trainers and specialist firearms officers.

Police chiefs said the increase - announced days after terror attacks in Orlando and France - is in response to the latest assessments of the threat from terrorism and the use of firearms by home-based criminal gangs.

They stressed it was not being taken in response to any specific threat to Scotland.

They also said the force overall remains an 'unarmed service', with the changes meaning that less than of its 17,234 officers will be deployed in a firearms capacity north of the border.

Assistant Chief Constable Bernard Higgins said: ''The threat level to the UK remains severe.

''There is no specific known threat to Scotland and this increase is not a response to any direct intelligence; but we must play our part in ensuring the safety and security of the whole of the UK.

''It would be dangerous and complacent to think that Scotland is any less at risk than the rest of the UK and this move helps enhance our response.''

He said much has changed, especially around the threat from terrorism, since the force's current firearms model was developed three years ago.

''Our thinking moving forward is based upon ensuring Scotland is as well protected as anywhere in the UK and that we are a strong contributor to the overall security of communities in the UK,'' he said.

''Our focus remains absolutely clear: to protect the public, reduce the risk posed by criminals including terrorists; and ensure we respond swiftly, effectively and decisively to any threat.''