Survey to find if London policemen want to carry guns

London, Jan 10 (IANS) London’s 32,000 police officers are to be surveyed to see if they want to be routinely armed with a gun while on duty in Britain’s capital, it was announced on Monday.

It will be the biggest ever survey of officers from London’s Metropolitan Police and comes in the wake of terror attacks in major European cities, Xinhua reported.

The question of guns will be put to the police officers by their trade union, the Police Federation.

Although all police forces in Britain have specially trained armed response teams, police have never carried guns as a standard part of their weaponry.

The view has always been that arming police officers as standard would affect the philosophy of policing in Britain. In London, just eight per cent of officers are armed with guns.

The Metropolitan Police last year announced plans to increase the number of armed police in the capital by 600, bringing the total to almost 3,000.

Ken Marsh, London chairman of the Police Federation said, “We have seen a lot of change in Europe and a lot of different kinds of terror attacks such as lorries being used.”

“We are not an armed force, we never have been. But the terrorism threat in London is constant and our officers must be vigilant and be able to deal swiftly with any scenarios we face.”

“We are asking our officers if they think they should be armed with Tasers and firearms to get an informed opinion from them. If it comes back overwhelmingly that they want to carry firearms we would have to have a very frank discussion about that, but there is no intention as we speak for that to happen.”

However, Marsh said arming officers could have a lot of implications, including harder fitness tests for officers.