Scottish Parliament Police To Be Armed With Tasers

28 March 2017, 14:28

scottish parliament

Police patrolling outside the Scottish Parliament are to carry Tasers in the wake of the Westminster terror attack.

MSPs and Holyrood staff were informed of the move in advance of an announcement from Police Scotland regarding a review of security arrangements at Holyrood.

It follows the attack by terrorist Khalid Masood, who killed four people in an 82-second rampage in London last week.

The 52-year-old was shot dead by armed police after fatally knifing Pc Keith Palmer in the Palace of Westminster's cobbled forecourt.

In a letter to staff, Holyrood chief executive Paul Grice said: ''Police Scotland will announce this morning that police officers carrying Tasers will patrol the public area outside of the Scottish Parliament building with effect from today.

''Police Scotland has assured us that the move is an operational contingency measure and is not based on any intelligence threat in relation to the Parliament or Scotland.

''Following on from the Westminster attack, Police Scotland will undertake a review of its security arrangements at Holyrood. The results of that review will be reported to the SPCB (Scottish Parliamentary Corporate Body) for its consideration.''

Two officers equipped with Tasers will be on duty at Holyrood at any one time, with the site covered 24 hours a day, it is understood.

The officers deployed will be fully-trained firearms officers carrying Tasers only.

Other firearms officers, while not deployed inside Holyrood, are believed to be in the vicinity of the parliament building and the wider government estate in Edinburgh.

The full-scale review of security at the Scottish Parliament is expected to take about three weeks to report back to senior police officers.

Deputy Chief Constable Johnny Gwynne, of Police Scotland, told reporters the deployment was a ''sensible'' move which will be kept under review.

Speaking in East Kilbride, South Lanarkshire, he said: ''This morning we have increased our presence at the parliament site at Holyrood. There are police officers deployed with Taser.

''That is a sensible precaution, it is not in response to any direct threat.

''It's been a very conscious and well-thought out deployment by us and it will continue until we consider it's no longer appropriate.

''(It's) to support the police team there and the protection of our seat of democracy.''

He insisted, when questioned, that it was not an admission the parliament was not secure enough before.

Assistant Chief Constable Bernard Higgins said he advocates constantly reviewing all deployments based on the available intelligence and current events.

''Quite clearly there was an attack on (the Westminster) parliament, so our immediate response to the attack on parliament last week was to put two ARVs (armed response vehicles) outside it full-time for the duration of the next 36 hours.

''Then, as we carried out that review, we looked to reduce the number of ARVs that were there permanently.

''Having discussions yesterday with senior officials from within parliament, we agreed that now is the time to conduct a full review of the security arrangements around parliament.

''As an interim measure, pending the outcome of the review, I felt it was both necessary and proportionate to deploy Taser officers only.

''These are fully-trained firearms officers equipped with the Taser only as an operational contingency based on the nature of the attack at parliament last week and pending the outcome of a full security review of the building.''