Sputnik spoke to Peter Squires, Professor of Criminology & Public Policy at University of Brighton, about the impact of the proposals.
Sputnik: What do you make of the proposals for rural officers carrying guns?
Peter Squires: Well I think we’ve seen these proposals advanced before in Scotland and there was quite a degree of public opposition to it. I think the problem is it opens up the slippery slope towards a fully armed police service, I think that’s problematic. At the moment we have a policing system that that relies upon extremely specialist armed response officers, who are highly trained, highly professional and to broaden that specialism to all rural officers will involve a drop in the quality of the service.
Sputnik: How much does this show that the traditional policing with no guns is becoming obsolete in Britain with the threats it’s facing?
Peter Squires: The concerns about the obsolescence of a particular model of policing is deeply worrying, we have celebrated, we have tried to cherish, we have tried to retain a system of policing by consent and by the minimum use of force. There have been changes, there are concerns about the level of gun crime, gang activity, violence and terrorism, these are new and some ways escalating threats and the police have to respond, but is has to respond in a necessary evil.
Sputnik: How beneficial could the new techniques they are working on be?
Peter Squires: That’s been an argument I’ve been making for a long time really, in police jurisdictions where they have greater use of fire arms, they have also invested more time and effort in to less lethal technologies that include pepper sprays, rubber bullets, sonic weapons. There doesn’t have to be a great leap from pepper spray or a Taser to a lethal firearm and I really think we should be investing more effort into what the police refer to as the continuum of force so you don’t go from a less lethal weapon straight to a lethal weapon with no stopping points in between.The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the speaker and do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.