Fewer police officers means more firearms

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Sgt George Dixon was once regarded as the epitome of the police service, especially the sight of him saluting smartly, saying ‘Evening All’, wearing his best dress police uniform, at the closing scene of every episode of Dixon of Dock Green.

That same scene shot today would show an officer wearing a stab proof vest, open neck shirt, armed with a baton, CS spray and kwik cuffs. The programme just wouldn’t be the same!

One problem the police have is that many people still yearn to see the traditional uniform bobby walking the beat rather than someone resembling a paramilitary car-parking attendant.

So whenever the police announce they want to upgrade their equipment and attire to meet modern day risks and threats, they can face stiff opposition from the diehard George Dixon fans. The police federation is arguing all frontline officers should be offered Tasers as part of their everyday equipment. There is, unsurprisingly, opposition to this proposal, including from within their own ranks, especially as the current terrorist threat is being used as the main evidence to support the idea.

Realistically, a Taser is about as much use as a spud gun when used as a response to an incident involving terrorists using AK47 rifles. Even armed officers are vulnerable in such situations, as proven by the police fatalities during the Charlie Hebdo attacks. Such incidents can only be contained by large numbers of heavily armed police responding quickly. I am surprised the Fed hasn’t raised the issue that this country needs far more armed officers with a greater ballistic capability in order to deal with the current terrorist threat level.

The better argument for the increased issue of Tasers may relate to the increased everyday threats faced by operational officers. There are simply far fewer officers out on patrol due to the austerity cuts, many of whom are single crewed.

The time has come for more officers to carry Tasers; simply the threat of their use can bring a violent individual to their senses and reduce the risk faced by the public and a lone officer.

It’s time to face reality; the days of George Dixon really have gone. Our much weakened police service is at times ill equipped to keep the public safe from modern day threats. More officers need to be equipped with both the Taser and a firearm.