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Couple Worries About Armed Police Patrols on Our High Street

Published on: 24 Sep, 2020
Updated on: 27 Sep, 2020

Armed Police on patrol in Guildford High Street.

By Martin Giles

Surrey’s chief constable, Gavin Stephens, says armed police patrols in the county, as observed on Guildford High Street last Saturday (September 18) are tasked specifically and are not there to simply reassure residents or “fly the flag” for the police.

But in May 2018, GetSurrey quoted a Surrey Police spokesman saying: “Armed police officers from Surrey and Sussex continue to carry out routine patrols across the counties as part of our commitment to keeping our communities safe.”

Guildford resident Janice Dempsey and her husband (who took the photo above) were concerned about armed officers. She was unhappy to see the “arming of police patrols among families shopping without explanation or notice of a change in policing policy and the lack of transparency when the public questions the presence of armed police.

“It seems the press and the public are being given two different stories.”

She added: “If armed police were needed on the High Street that day, the people should have been told and could have stayed away. We don’t like being anywhere near guns.

“We’ve travelled a lot, in Italy, France, the USA and last Christmas to Prague, and never feel safe near armed policemen.”

Surrey Police’s Communications Team is investigating the tasking of the patrol, pictured about lunchtime on Saturday, September 18.

What do you think? Does the presence of armed police officers make you feel anxious or reassured? Should there be more or fewer armed patrols in Guildford? Should we know why they have been tasked? Please use the “Leave a reply” feature below to give your view.

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Responses to Couple Worries About Armed Police Patrols on Our High Street

  1. Sean Jenkinson Reply

    September 25, 2020 at 6:30 am

    Why would you worry, if you see armed police running in one direction go the other way. If they are just patrolling it makes me feel safe, I am sorry to say in 2016 ISIS said they will use the refugee crisis to smuggle in their own soldiers into Europe. Most of the boats you see landing in the UK are full of young men and we have no way of knowing who they are. At some point, there is going to be another terrorist attack or many attacks. With the big cities making there defences stronger the terrorists are at some point going to attack large towns, so I welcome armed police on our streets.

  2. Lisa Grant Reply

    September 25, 2020 at 9:06 am

    I feel safer knowing there are armed police in Guildford, the only reason to be afraid is if you have done something wrong. I’d like to see more police on the streets and a campaign to teach children that the police are there to protect them and property.

    Saying that seeing armed Police is alarming in these days of stabbings and assaults seems odd to me, I’d be afraid without them. I never go to Guildford at night and even in the daytime I am wary. Let’s see our police more often so that we are used to them, surely it’s much better than accepting the kind of knife culture London is experiencing.

  3. A Grenville Reply

    September 25, 2020 at 10:24 am

    What is wrong with having armed police on our streets to make sure that we are kept safe? I would prefer to have them there to prevent something rather then pick up the pieces after the carnage and say, “If only we were here before.”

    What is wrong with guns? You don’t see one walking up the high street randomly shooting people, do you? It is the lunatic fringe with guns, knives and screwdrivers who are the killers, not the instruments.

    Cars and other vehicles are the biggest killers in the UK. Let’s ban them, shall we?

  4. David Wragg Reply

    September 25, 2020 at 10:26 am

    This seems unnecessary. I have always felt safe in Guildford.

    • Sean Jenkinson Reply

      September 25, 2020 at 3:16 pm

      I used to feel safe in Guildford at night in the 80s because when you went out you knew everyone and you did feel save. Now not so much, in fact we don’t go into Guildford at night anymore not even for a meal, and with regard to armed police, I would rather have them there and not need them than need them and not have them there.

  5. David Middleton Reply

    September 25, 2020 at 1:50 pm

    Funny how everyone seems to have an opinion about how police should do their job, usually an opinion based on no knowledge or experience whatsoever, of how to do that job.

    If a plumber came to your house to mend your boiler and you started to tell him, or her, how to do it based on what you’d read online, or what a friend, or a bloke in the pub told you, I can imagine the ‘colourful’ response you’d get.

    Let us simply be grateful that there are men and women such as those officers and their unarmed colleagues, who are prepared to put themselves in harm’s way, on a daily basis, to try to protect us from evil people who seek to do us harm.

  6. Michael Melbourne Reply

    September 25, 2020 at 1:51 pm

    This can be alarming at times. A few years ago, after a terrorist attack in London, a friend and I stepped off a train
    at Eastleigh to be confronted by three policemen holding machine guns.

    In recent years, wherever you travel this is the normal way of life. Eventually we will all get used to it.

  7. Paul Robinson Reply

    September 25, 2020 at 3:21 pm

    I have worked at Heathrow and Gatwick for 40 years and for most of that time I have been in the presence of armed police and never felt concerned and I never heard of an incident where armed police were part of the problem.

    Ms Dempsey states she has travelled a lot, presumably most of the trips were by air. If that is the case she must have used an airport where there was an armed police presence. Her concerns do not seem to have curtailed her holiday trips.

  8. Mike Murphy Reply

    September 25, 2020 at 4:02 pm

    I have seen in my lifetime a complete change of attitude to our brilliant police by certain lawless elements of our so-called society. Until recent years, there was mutual respect with our police. We see daily, on television, certain sectors of our community in verbal and physical confrontation with our endlessly patient front line officers.

    The use of knives, guns and other offensive weapons has resulted in our law enforcement officers having to routinely deploy tasers, batons etc. It was unfortunately only a matter of time before military-type weapons were needed to protect us and them from this imported criminality.

    I am reassured that the chief constable has tried to be one step ahead of these lawless elements, but hope they will only be e deterrent and will not have to be used in anger.

  9. Alan Cooper Reply

    September 25, 2020 at 4:49 pm

    How sad, yet another criticism of the police. I am pleased to note they were showing all of this in Guildford that are equipped should the need arise. As so wisely said by Sean Jenkinson, if you were to see them running in one direction an about-turn would be a wise move.

    Sad, but that is the way society has gone over the past 20 years, lack of respect for human lives or property. Mainly brought about by the lack of discipline at home and schools and the lack of emphasis on teaching of good manners, standards and values.

    The judiciary is also to blame for its inept punishments that are no deterrent to the average thug on the streets.

    Come on magistrates wake-up and stop slapping these thugs on the wrist with community orders etc. They are laughing at you and out on the streets again to repeat their repugnant behaviour.

  10. John Perkins Reply

    September 26, 2020 at 10:21 am

    The murder yesterday of a policeman in Croydon illustrates perfectly how we are being forced into arming the police. Eventually it will be routine.

    Nobody should be scared by the sight of guns in the hands of trained police. Rather they should be frightened by those they don’t see, hidden in the trousers of the mad and bad.

    The police have to be able to defend themselves or they won’t be able to defend the rest of us.

  11. Lisa Kearney Reply

    September 26, 2020 at 10:01 pm

    I totally disagree with Janice Dempsey, so what if armed police are on the Guildford Streets? It is what it is and why should the public be informed?

  12. Jules Cranwell Reply

    September 27, 2020 at 7:18 am

    It is probably necessary, but I have some reservations. After all routinely arming all police in the US, has not been an unqualified success. They seem to be inclined to shoot first, and ask questions after.

    • David Middleton Reply

      September 28, 2020 at 1:21 pm

      Comparing the UK to the US is an entirely pointless and a false comparison. The US has a completely different culture and attitude to firearms to that of the UK, with tens of millions of firearms in circulation, both lawfully and unlawfully. Their entire policing system for the past 250 – 300 years, has been built around a man with a badge and a gun.

      Why not compare with the many other European countries where police are routinely armed? France, Spain, Greece? All very much happy holiday destinations for we Brits, where the sight of a police officer with a firearm barely warrants a second glance.

    • Paul Robinson Reply

      September 28, 2020 at 4:50 pm

      In the US, with their much misunderstood “right to bear arms” there is higher likelihood of the person the police are detaining will be armed as compared to the UK, so I am not surprised the US police are more likely to shoot first.

    • Robert Burch Reply

      September 28, 2020 at 4:54 pm

      Police are not routinely armed in the UK. It is (rightly) a specialist role. Out of interest, what are Mr Cranwell’s reservations?

  13. Duncan Mills Reply

    September 28, 2020 at 9:17 am

    Scared to go out in Guildford at night – really? Who or what exactly are they scared of? The most scared I’ve been was when confronted by a fox on the Farnham Road.

    Regarding arming police: there have been 30 police officers killed in the UK in the last 20 years: 16 were related to vehicles (run over, etc), 11 stabbed or shot. This year four people have been shot by the police in the UK compared to 661 in the US.

    Nothing more to add. Readers can work it out for themselves.

  14. Paul Brennan Reply

    September 29, 2020 at 10:51 am

    I can understand that there needs to be an armed response capability in this day and age, but I would strongly prefer them not to patrol down the High Street. The armed officers should be positioned nearby, but out of sight.

    Positioning them in the midst of the shopping public does not reassure me, it makes me more fearful. It makes me want to avoid contact with that police officer, rather than be happy to interact with that officer. And carrying weapons means an increased risk of mistakes and serious injuries.

    • Paul Robinson Reply

      September 29, 2020 at 3:06 pm

      I cannot agree, a visible armed police presence is a deterrent, not just on that particular day but every day. The prospective terrorist can’t be sure when firearms squad will be around.

      In my 40 years working at Heathrow and Gatwick I do not recall a mistake and serious injury as a result of an armed police presence.

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