The fact that most British police officers (about 90 percent) don’t carry firearms while on duty has been recently highlighted by the terror attacks in Manchester and, more recently, on the London Bridge and nearby market.
This story from americanmilitarynews.com says that poll data shows a large majority of Britons want that to change, and they want their cops to be armed.
“If those who answered ‘neither’ or ‘don’t know’ are excluded, the number of those in favor of arming police increases to 78 percent while 22 percent oppose.”
That’s a significant margin, and the story says the numbers were consistent over categories like age, gender, and region.
Residents of London were least in favor of police carrying while on duty, but a majority were still in favor of it at 68 percent.
The poll was conducted by Sky News following the London attack where three attackers mowed down pedestrians on the London Bridge and then proceeded to stab innocent people in the nearby Borough Market. Eight people were killed and 48 injured before armed police were able to respond and kill the terrorists in a hail of bullets. Fifteen of the injured remain in critical condition.
While the incident occurred Saturday, one of the victims was not found until Wednesday, when their body was found in the River Thames, according to businessinsider.com.
The UK is made up of four constituent countries: England, Scotland, Wales (which together make up Great Britain), and Northern Ireland. In Northern Ireland, all police officers are armed. In the rest of the UK, firearms are only carried by specially-trained firearms officers.
The practice originated with the formation of the Metropolitan Police Service in the 19th century. Police were not armed at the time, partly to counter public fears and objections over armed enforcers, which had previously been seen as the British Army maintaining order when required.
In 2011-12, there were 6,756 Authorised Firearms Officers in the UK and 12,550 police operations in which firearms were authorized to be used in England and Wales.
Most officers are instead issued speedcuffs, extendable batons, and sprays like PAVA or CS spray.
Tasers are only issued to Authorised Firearms Officers for use against armed assailants.