Highlands & Islands

Northern Constabulary trains more armed officers

Armed officer generic
Image caption Armed officers are deployed against people intent on harming others, the force said

A police force has trained up more of its officers in the use of firearms.

In a new report, Northern Constabulary said after six weeks' training several staff achieved the "desired high standard" in the use of weapons.

The force provides armed officers at incidents and as protection to VIPs, when the measure is considered to be necessary.

On 28 occasions between April and June this year, armed officers were alerted that they may be needed.

The majority of the situations were resolved before, or on arrival, of the officers, according to the report.

However, in six incidents they were used to help bring the incident to a resolution.

In a report to a meeting of the Northern Joint Police Board next week, the force said it had increased the number of trained staff.

The paper said: "In April and May an initial firearms officers course was held over six weeks to increase the number of trained officers across the force.

"This is a resource intensive commitment but was successfully concluded with several officers achieving the desired high standard.

"This assists the force in providing a response to individuals or groups of individuals intent on causing harm to others."

The report also highlighted the role of Northern's operational support unit during the Olympic Torch Relay's journey through the Highlands, Western Isles and Northern Isles.

It said the unit had been heavily involved in the planning and delivery of services needed during the relay's visit.

Two years ago, BBC Scotland's news website reported how a female firearms officer hoped to encourage more policewomen to join her force's armed response team.

At the time, Alison McLennan, 32, was one of three female authorised firearms officers (AFOs) at Northern Constabulary.

She said the role involved working under extreme pressure, but could also be highly rewarding.

Northern Constabulary said any impressions that armed response was for men only was wrong and outdated.

PC McLennan made her call in e-magazine, Northern Lights, on the force's website.

She also told of the pressures in distinguishing realistic-looking fake guns from real weapons during incidents and working with search teams and negotiators.

The officer added: "I never feel like I am one of only three women specialists and it is never an issue.

"We are all just firearms officers working together to protect the public."

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