POLICE must have the “right tools” to deal with constantly emerging threats to public safety - but arming all officers isn’t the answer, says Dorset’s police and crime commissioner.

Martyn Underhill spoke after the results of a public survey on the police’s use of force were published.

Of the 1,621 people who completed the survey, answering questions on issues including use of Tasers, firearms and handcuffing, 45 per cent of respondents were satisfied with the current level of armed officers in Dorset.

A further 39 per cent said they would like to see more armed officers in the county, while 15 per cent wished to see all officers armed.

Mr Underhill has long spoken out against arming all officers, saying last year he would “resist any attempt” to do so.

However, he recently announced the number of Taser-trained officers will be increased to 250.

Of all respondents, 70 per cent said they would feel safer if more officers carried a Taser.

Mr Underhill said: “I remain fully committed to policing by consent and would not support the routine arming of officers on our streets, which would have a huge impact on the way that the police positively engage in our communities.

“Despite this, I recognise that in recent times, policing has found itself operating within a rapidly evolving landscape. From the challenges posed by terrorism to the increase in reported knife crime, threats to public safety are constantly emerging and resources remain stretched.

“Against this backdrop, the debate on how to best equip officers has been brought to the fore, with forces nationally examining uplifts in firearms and Taser provision. It is imperative that the right tools are made available to officers to enable them to bring any incident to a safe conclusion for both themselves and the public, but, fundamentally, care must be taken to protect our policing model.”

Mr Underhill said “most rural forces” in the UK would struggle to respond as quickly and as fully to terrorism as the Met Police and the Greater Manchester Police recently have.

“The totality of policing needs more resources to build a safer and more secure future, but until such a time, we must continue to equip our officers proportionately to meet current and emerging threats,” he said. 

“I fully support the operational decision by the chief constable to uplift the number of Taser-trained officers in Dorset, which will enhance our response capabilities.”