Police forces around the UK do not have routinely armed officers, except the PSNI, Ministry of Defence Police and the Civil Nuclear Constabulary. All other forces have armed response units specifically equipped to deal with specific incidents. Due to this, firearms are not a major spending priority for the ‘bobby on the beat’.
However, The Police Service of Northern Ireland has spent over £2 million on acquiring firearms in the last six years, BtP can reveal.
We asked the PSNI to outline spending on firearms and their spare parts, tasers and irritant sprays such as mace, since 2011.
In total, the police spent £2,671,631.28 on firearms during that period.
£90,355 was spent on tasers and accessories, with £235,223 spent on irritant sprays.
From 2015 until the present day, nothing has been spent on tasers or sprays, but there has been significant spending on firearms each year since 2011/12 as the data below outlines;
These costs do not include ammunition, but do include ‘associated spare parts’.
According to a statement to the House of Commons by the then Secretary of State in January 2014, the highest year of spending on firearms, 2013/14 saw 30 national security attacks in NI, over half of which, according to her statement, took place between October and December 2013. Could this massive hike in firearms expenditure be a response to the upsurge in security-related incidents?
As of January 2016, the PSNI has a full time office complement of 6,872. The total cost of firearms constitutes almost £400 per officer, though it is unlikely each officer is issued with a new firearm each financial year.