Nick Clegg rejects calls for police to be routinely armed


The Deputy Prime Minister, Nick Clegg, has rejected calls to routinely arm police following the death of two female police officers in Manchester.

Speaking at a central London youth club today, Mr Clegg, warned against providing weapons to all officers, claiming there would be "considerable risks" in a move to do so.

Greater Manchester Police officers, Nicola Hughes, 23, and Fiona Bone, 32, died in a gun and grenade attack after they were called to investigate a reported burglary on Tuesday.

Mr Clegg's comments followed calls from Paul Beshenivsky, whose PC wife was shot dead in Bradford during an armed robbery in 2005, to allow officers to carry firearms so they were prepared for any situation they found themselves in.

"I don't think this is the time to rush to instant judgments, this really is a time for mourning and support, of course, for the family and friends of the two women who have been killed," said Mr Clegg.

He added: "I think if we were, in an instant to, in a sense, arm our police to the teeth so they become separate from the public that would be quite a big change which would have considerable risks attached to it."

Providing officers with firearms routinely needed to be looked at "very carefully" and not in an "instant way" after a terrible tragedy, Mr Clegg said.

Sir Hugh Orde, the president of the Association of Chief Police Officers, warned against a potential change. "Guns don't necessarily solve the problem. Many colleagues in America are lost without even drawing their gun at close ranges," Sir Hugh told BBC Radio 4's Today programme.