In the wake of the Westminster terrorist attack, police patrolling outside the Scottish Parliament will now be armed with Tasers.
The new measure is being introduced as part of a review of security procedures at Holyrood after Khalid Masood killed four people, including a police officer, in London.
This comes after Police Scotland Chief Constable Phil Gormley confirmed that armed police were deployed across “key locations in Scotland” following the attack.
A letter from Parliament Chief Executive Paul Grice to Holyrood staff stated: “Police Scotland will announce this morning that police officers carrying Tasers will patrol the public area outside of the Scottish Parliament building with effect from today.
“Police Scotland has assured us that the move is an operational contingency measure and is not based on any intelligence threat in relation to the parliament or Scotland,” he continued.
“Following on from the Westminster attack, Police Scotland will undertake a review of its security arrangements at Holyrood.”
“The results of that review will be reported to the SPCB (Scottish Parliamentary Corporate Body) for its consideration,” he concluded.
However, calls for police officers to be armed with Tasers as standard across the country have been rejected.
The request came from rank and file members as an emergency motion at the Scottish Police Federation (SPF) conference.
Raising concerns that police budget cuts risked officers being underarmed, head of the SPF, Calum Steele, claimed that officers did not have the equipment to protect themselves or the public.
Speaking after the conference to The Telegraph, Steele said: “We know that batons don’t work, we know that in 40 per cent of cases spray doesn’t work.”
Deputy Chief Constable Johnny Gwynne told BBC Scotland that the response to terrorism needed to be more nuanced than relying on weapons alone, instead focusing on community co-operation.
“For the avoidance of doubt, we as a command team in Police Scotland pride ourselves in being an unarmed service with the ability to draw on armed capability when we need it,” he added.
“We are committed to remaining what looks like an unarmed service, because that’s what we believe makes policing work.”