Police (Arms Policy)

Justice and Law Officers – in the Scottish Parliament at 2:15 pm on 25th February 2010.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Hugh O'Donnell Hugh O'Donnell Liberal Democrat 2:15 pm, 25th February 2010

To ask the Scottish Executive whether there is a Scottish national policy on the arming of police forces. (S3O-9625)

Photo of Kenny MacAskill Kenny MacAskill Scottish National Party

Firearms legislation is a reserved responsibility of the United Kingdom Government. The deployment and use of firearms is an operational matter for chief constables. Scottish police forces follow guidance contained in the Association of Chief Police Officers "Manual of Guidance on Police Use of Firearms".

Photo of Hugh O'Donnell Hugh O'Donnell Liberal Democrat

I declare an interest in that my son is a serving police officer.

Notwithstanding the cabinet secretary's response, the Scottish Government has responsibility in relation to firearms, particularly those that are used by public bodies, in the context of the Human Rights Act 1998 and the European convention on human rights. What steps has the cabinet secretary taken, or what steps will he take, to ensure that the deployment of Tasers by Strathclyde Police complies with the 1998 act and the ECHR?

Photo of Kenny MacAskill Kenny MacAskill Scottish National Party

I assure Mr O'Donnell that firearms are reserved. If he can advise me how that is not so, I will act forthwith, because the Government is committed to taking action on the scourge of air weapons in our communities. If our doing so was simple, I have no doubt that he would have advised me about that by now.

Firearms are reserved to Westminster, which is why the Scottish Parliament cannot legislate on the matter. Tasers are classified as firearms. As we debated this morning, it has never been, will not be under my watch and—I think—will not be for any justice secretary, whatever their political colour, to interfere with the operational matters of our police forces. To do so would undermine the democratic basis on which we operate, through political interference in policing that must be for our communities.