Top cop rules out routinely arming police in Lincolnshire
The prospect of police teams in South Holland and the Deepings routinely carrying firearms has been effectively dismissed by the county force's second-in-command.
Craig Naylor, Deputy Chief Constable of Lincolnshire Police, described a proposal by a national policing body that "response officers" in rural communities may carry firearms in the future as "disproportionate".
The proposal came from Simon Chesterman, lead on armed policing for the National Police Chiefs' Council.
Mr Chesterman said: "Police chiefs are committed to a model of policing that has, at its core, a routinely unarmed service.
"At the same time, we need to be sure that we have the right level of armed police to meet threats to the public.
"We are continuing to review and discuss options with some forces that have harder-to-reach rural communities, including the arming of some response officers.
"However, any change would be decided by chief constables based on threat and risk."
Home Office figures showed that as of March 2017, there were 6,278 authorised firearms officers in England and Wales, down from 6,976 in March 2010.
During an interview with BBC Radio Lincolnshire this month, Mr Naylor said: "We have a number of armed response vehicles that patrol the county's roads.
"But although we do have some difficulties in some of the more rural areas of Lincolnshire, I don't see the answer to that problem as putting a handgun in the pockets of the majority of response officers.
"What we have done to reduce the threat and risk to the public is to provide 50 per cent of our response officers with Tasers.
"I think that's proportionate to what police in Lincolnshire deal with on a daily basis.
"Lincolnshire is a safe county and it is regularly seen as one of the safest places in the UK.
"We assess the threat and risk to the county's safety on a regular basis and, as part of that, routinely arming our response officers is not something that we are keen to pursue.
"I would much rather focus on a proper investigation and the understanding of where those threats are, addressing them as they arise."
Mr Naylor's stance was backed by Police and Crime Commissioner Marc Jones who said:"Lincolnshire already has the highest proportion of officers in the UK trained to use non-lethal Tasers.
"We have also recently invested in the latest Tasers that are safer and more accountable.
"Both myself and the Chief Constable believe that this, coupled with the specialist firearms teams we already operate, deliver a proportional level of protection.
"I do not believe having more routinely armed officers on the streets of our communities is necessary or desirable."