Commission comments on armed police

The Scottish Human Rights Commission has commented on changes to practices for arming police officers in Scotland.

Speaking to the Inverness Courier, Scotsman and Herald newspapers, Professor Alan Miller, Chair of the Commission, said:

"Guns are lethal weapons. They have the power to kill and to cause serious harm. Their use by police officers must always be monitored and regulated carefully. Any potential increase in their use is of particular concern when it comes to our human rights.

“The Commission recognises that specially trained armed police perform a necessary and important function when it comes to protecting people’s lives in violent situations. We reiterate that lethal force should only be used where there is a real and immediate risk to life.  Introducing guns to standard policing duties, even where officers are fully trained, increases the presence of lethal weapons on Scotland’s streets. This kind of change should only take place with extreme caution and with appropriate scrutiny by all of the public bodies that have responsibility for policing policy and operations.  

“In our view, Scottish Ministers have principal responsibility for policing policy and for ensuring that police power, priorities and style are exercised in a way that protects the human rights of everyone in Scotland. We do not believe this issue is simply an operational matter for Police Scotland.  More generally, we welcome Police Scotland’s stated commitment to taking a human rights-based approach to policing. We particularly welcome their commitment to working with the Commission, through Scotland’s National Action Plan for Human Rights, to embed better protection of human rights within police structures and culture."

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