In the wake of the brutal killings of two female officers late last year, Fiona Bone, 32, and Nicola Hughes, 23, whilst on a routine operation in Tameside, Greater Manchester, have shocked the nation. Not least as such killings - especially those of female officers - are particularly rare.
But despite the horror of what happened the government should ensure that it does not overreact in its haste to appear to be taking action. It is tempting to think that if the officers had had guns they might have survived and thus that all police officers should be able to carry weapons for their own protection. In this case it appears that carrying guns would have been unlikely to have made a difference, but even if so there are very many negatives associated with police bearing weapons.
In airports and in central London many people already describe it as being overbearing. Police carrying weapons en masse bears resemblance to a police state which risks diminishing one of the fundamental tenants of law in our country, that of policing by consent.
As Janet Street porter said on BBC Question Time recently; ‘Dialogue must be your starting point, not force’, giving the police too much power can - as is most obvious seen in the US – breed a blasé culture around guns, one that risks leading to more deaths not less. And that, after all, would defeat the point.