in Britain face increasing levels of violence with street crime being higher
today than any previous years. “The 13% increase in police recorded crime from
the previous year reflects a range of factors including continuing improvements
to crime recording and genuine increases in crime categories” 1().
The exactly number of illegal firearms there are in Britain is unknown, it is
estimated to be between 500,000 and a million 2(). Therefore, it
becomes more relevant that the British police should carry firearms. A police
officer has right to protect himself with reasonable force, right?
firstly discuss the reasons for and then against whether the police force
should be armed and will conclude if I will still believe that we should arm
the force, as this view has come under very heavy criticism recent years.
A primary reason for
arming the police force is to deter crime. Armed
criminals operate in at least some areas in almost every authority, countries North
America and Europe arm police officers to deter criminal acts. If we fail to arm
the police, this gives armed criminals a strong advantage to threaten and
commit violence without any risk to themselves. Police officers in the
United Kingdom often have other items for personal protection such as pepper
spray, speedcuffs and extendable batons. Whereas in Northern Ireland much
closer to the UK has the police force carry firearms while on duty. Britain
police opted to take a different direction from that of America and the rest of
Europe by declining to arm the police force and this has managed to lower crime
rates in the region 3 (Kelly, United States, 2009). Every police force in Britain has a
dedicated firearms unit with trained officers specifically to attend situation
armed and prepared, but before they do this they have to be given permission. If
refused permission to go in armed, unarmed police officers will have to attend
what could potentially be an armed incident, lead to fatalities.
The UK might also be seen differently
due to not having an armed police force. The nation will be seen as a softer compared to other armed nation.
This can encourage importation of crime as the police force might be seen a
pushover as we continue “light policing” our country. Forwarding an increase of
We are additionally
seeing that recently the police are calling for more routine arming of officers
too. This is seen with a a survey carried out by the Police Federation in 20175
(). “Rank and file officers in England and Wales,
found that 55% said they would carry a firearm if asked or ordered to”.
The last survey carried out during 2006 found 44% should carry firearms regular
on duty. Where as 42.5% thought should receive training and be armed when necessary
but nor regularly. Another survey done by the Metropolitan Police Federation 6()
found that 75% of officers surveyed felt all Metropolitan Police officers
should be issued with a taser. And only 6% of officers feel there are
currently an “adequate” amount of gun carrying officers. Results also
showed that 43.6% – believe there “should be more specialist firearms officers
in the Metropolitan Police Service but not all officers should be routinely
With such as increase of terrorist activity or violent crime occurring and making
worldwide news more frequently the mood is defiantly changing within policing
forces. It shows that those who think routine arming should be more widely considered
is increase steadily. Although an unarmed type of policing has made Britain
less violent, it is coming at a cost as officers are more vulnerable.
However so it would be wrong to listen only to survey responses.
The police should also be firmly under vigilant restrictions, with policy
issues such as the carrying of firearms to be subjected to political decisions
and accountability. Police recruitment will be affected if the police are
armed; many current officers opposed to this measure may leave, and others like
them will not apply to join the force in future. Do we need a police force of
people who want to carry a firearm every day? As we can’t simply predict when someone is going to
commit a violent crime and with an increase in gun culture in Britain, police
officers are more likely to come up against armed violence and it would be
unfair if they were not prepared and be put into danger? “Mass shootings in the
United States are often framed as the work of loners—unstable, angry White men
who never should have had access to firearms” 9 (Jonathan, 2014). If
officers were able to respond on scene without the need of permission with a firearm
the likely hood of a mass shooter or terrorist attack who shouldn’t have had a firearm
from being stopped would be significantly increase.
to have the public police to remain unarmed is beneficial, where the police are
not routinely armed, a proportion of criminals will not arm themselves either. If
the police are armed, criminals who aren’t carrying firearms are suddenly under
a strong disadvantage. Therefore, when the police become routinely armed, the
criminal world fully arms itself in response. “Policing is taken to mean
something that lies between the fuzzy and nebulous meaning of social control” 4
(Tim Newburn, 2012). This might lead to criminals and citizens
feeling that the police force has more power than necessary. Increasing weapons possession
will result in higher use, either side carrying weapons will mean that they consider
using fire arms an option which they did not currently need to possess. This
effectively might reduce the other options currently available, for example the
police are less likely to use less harmful alternatives such as stun guns, pepper
spray or even negotiation. Also, this would effectively make fire arms a
symbol of authority enforcing the idea that the police and citizens operate
under different rules and shared values especially in the absence of a
fundamental right for citizens to bear arms.
through their whole career without handling firearms. Even with the special measures
and training given to the few firearms officers today, mistakes sometimes occur,
and innocent people are shot, either by mistake because of inaccurate
information, or because they were caught in the cross-fire. This can be seen
highlighted by news networks frequently. Recently an attack on a Borough Market
pub in London7 () left one bystander shoot while caught in the
crossfire as armed police fired an “unprecedented 50 rounds” at three terrorists.
Arming all police officers would mean losing the current selection methods and
inevitably less training being provided, so mistakes might become much more
common and more people would be wounded or killed.
Armed police are a
huge benefit when dealing with crises and incidents like riots. If it does get
violent people’s lives can be in danger. teargas and knockout gas can be used
to instantly halt a group of rioters or make them leave as well as rubber
bullets and tasers when needed to protect the lives. Whereas discharging a firearm into the air to
disperse rioters is easier and more efficient than stunning or detaining all of
them. The police force should be prepared to do either to protect innocent
lives. But people may feel safer when they see armed police, especially if they
perceive them as a response to a critical event. For example police officers at
British airports carry sub-machine guns. Nevertheless firearms can be seen as a
form of brutality,
when applied in ways that deviate from the expectations of civil like racial
profiling, firearms can undermine the idea of protection and safety that they
are supposed to bring.
police is essentially a matter of self-defence. This is shown by the fact that most
armed police never fire their weapon on active duty in their whole career.
What is actually needed is more effort in preventing crime through policing
strategy. Nor does arming the police offer a solution to fundamental
socio-political issues which contribute to crime. Arming the police is an
uneven response to gun crime, as it will could affect some community’s more
than others. For example, as certain ethnic groups are often associated with
particular types of criminality, police use of firearms will damage police
credibility within communities which feel that they are the subject of too much
police suspicion. Even if the police believe they are carrying weapons in
self-defence, others will view it as an aggressive act. “Intimate
partner violence is higher for Blacks and Hispanics than for Whites” 9
police officers in New Zealand, Iceland, and Norway are unarmed, except for
those who are committed in airport security and anti-terrorism work as stated. On
the other hand countries such as China, Russia , and the United States, again the
media often cite issues on power abuse and misuse of authority by the police.
Hence, people tend to call for a reduction in police’s reliance on firearms.
Nevertheless, where heavy crimes and terrorism remain topical people will be arguing
for and against arming more officers.
both armed and unarmed police forces have their own fair share of advantages
and disadvantages. Arming the police only leads to people arming
themselves as well, and the United States faces many challenges
of violent crimes and misuse of firearms because of it. Whereas Britain has
lower cases of shootings and violent crimes with a problem of protecting police
officers on duty. The best case would be for police officers to use other training
methods like persuasion or deduction skills and not physical force when dealing
with conflict, but misuse of firearms can become burred very quickly
when tensions are high. I believe I’ve found myself in more of a grey area in
my ideas then before about arming the public police force. If the law fell
either way I think I still would rather have the police force being armed to
prevent crime as it outweighs the consequences of having higher police fatality’s.
Police officers protect our community by deterring crime so that as we can feel
protected. These officers put their lives on the line and sometimes that life
is taken. If we were to arm our officers, then it would create a more
secure environment for them and us.