§ 31. Mr. Wingfield Digby
asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department in what circumstances he is now authorising the arming of the police, uniformed and in plain clothes; and what consideration he has given to a general extension of the present authority.
§ The Secretary of State for the Home Department (Mr. Roy Jenkins)
Arms are available for issue to police officers who are on protection duty or need to carry them for self-defence when engaged on specially dangerous duty, and who have been trained to handle them. I do not contemplate any substantial change in these arrangements, but I am considering, in consultation with the organisations representing the various ranks in the police service, a number of detailed 392 improvements, for example, in firearm training.
§ Mr. Digby
While recognising that any general arming of the police would be a retrograde step, is it not possible that the third policeman would be alive today if there had been a gun in the car? Consequently, is there not a case for being a little more generous in allowing those on special and dangerous duties to have guns with them?
§ Mr. Jenkins
It is very dangerous to draw hypothetical deductions such as the hon. Gentleman has drawn. I am certainly prepared to look at matters' of detail in this respect, as I have indicated, but my mind—and I think that all ranks in the police force are in agreement—is very strongly against moving towards any general policy of arming the police.