Scotland politics

Police chiefs recalled to Holyrood over armed officers

Firearms officers in Inverness Image copyright Northpix
Image caption Concerns have been raised over the deployment of armed police to routine incidents

Senior Police Scotland officers have been recalled to answer further questions from MSPs about officers carrying firearms at routine incidents.

Thursday's meeting of the Holyrood justice sub-committee had to be curtailed due to lack of time.

A further hour-long session will now be held next week.

The committee heard that armed officers had engaged with the public at more than 1,600 non-firearms incidents since October.

In that month, Chief Constable Sir Stephen House said that armed officers would no longer be sent to non-life-threatening calls, but the committee heard they had attended call-outs including drink-driving offences and pub fights since then.

Assistant chief constable Bernard Higgins told the Holyrood committee that the 1,644 engagements was a "huge reduction" on the 30,000 recorded in the first year of Police Scotland.

Mr Higgins, deputy chief constable Iain Livingstone, Scottish Police Authority board member Iain Whyte and Derek Penman, Her Majesty's inspector of constabulary in Scotland, are all to return for further questioning by MSPs.

Mr Livingstone said the force "welcome the opportunity to return and give further evidence on what is a very important policing issue".

'Hugely controversial'

A Scottish parliament spokesman said: "The committee has agreed to extend the evidence session that had to be curtailed yesterday and will reconvene another hour-long session with the same witnesses on Thursday, 19 March."

Scottish Liberal Democrat spokeswoman Alison McInnes welcomed the move.

She said: "I am pleased that we will have another chance to get the public the answers that they need on this hugely controversial issue.

"It is no surprise that we ran out of time yesterday given how long it look to tease answers out of the senior officers. I had pressed for an extra hearing to get to the bottom of this and am pleased that the convener agrees with me.

"There are serious questions to be asked over the manner in which the police have approached this issue and it would have been wrong to leave unfinished business."

More on this story

Related Internet links

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites