Armed police have helped out at more than 80 incidents across Scotland in the last week – including giving an elderly lady in Aberdeen first aid after a fall.
In December Police Scotland announced that armed response vehicles (ARVs) would be sent to a wider range of incidents in order to speed up response times and better protect the public.
Previously they were only allowed to attend where firearms were being used or where there was a risk to life.
Since the roll-out of the “new deployment model” last Monday, officers have helped 50 vulnerable or missing people, assisted at 20 road traffic incidents and responded to 10 calls for medical assistance.
Among these were a call to help a drunk man in Inverness who was found walking into traffic.
They were also sent to a domestic violence call in Edinburgh, a mountain rescue incident in Dumfries and assisted in the hunt for a Perth man who was allegedly wielding a weapon.
Assistant Chief Constable Nelson Telfer said: “ARV officers are highly trained and provide valuable assistance to their colleagues in local communities, as well as to other emergency services.
“The deployment of these officers will at all times be overseen by specially-trained inspectors across Scotland who will assess the appropriateness of calls they attend using established decision making and risk assessment processes.
“The number of armed officers makes up just over 2% of the total number of police officers and we must remember that first and foremost, they are police officers.
“The emphasis of the extended role of ARV officers is on public protection, vulnerability and speed of response.”
Highlands and Islands Green MSP, John Finnie, said: “While all the acts referred to are praiseworthy, let’s be quite clear, police officers don’t need to be in procession of a firearm to render first aid, help someone in distress or assist a with a mountain rescue.
“The vast majority of such acts are undertaken by unarmed officers and Police Scotland should be looking at how they can reduce their armed presence not justify a growth in armed deployment.”