| 14.9°C Dublin

Don't rule out guns for UK police: Top cop

Bill Bratton, the US 'supercop' appointed as an adviser to British prime minister David Cameron following the English riots, has called for a fresh debate on whether officers should carry firearms.

Mr Bratton said that he expected a "transparent" discussion on weaponry and the tradition of policing by consent. He expressed admiration at the absence of a "stampede to arm" police in the wake of rioting but said the issue needed reconsideration.

"Decisions will have to be made about what and when is the appropriate level of force necessary against forces being demonstrated against the police and the public.

"What methods are used, the use of rubber bullets, water cannon . . . do need to be discussed in a transparent way and (if) they are authorised, that police are trained in their use and restrictions."

His comments, which fall outside his remit as an adviser to tackle gang violence, will escalate divisions between the British government and senior officers who fear Mr Bratton's involvement risks a fundamental change in the way British policing is conducted.

Although credited with achieving reductions in crime rates in New York and Los Angeles, Mr Bratton was also criticised for his tough stance.


He presided over the LAPD when police opened fire with rubber bullets on a demonstration in MacArthur Park in 2007.

A senior British police officer said: "If something like MacArthur Park happened here in Britain, the chief constable would have walked in shame. Somehow Bratton kept his job. You have to wonder how he could police in Britain."