Tory grandee Annabel Goldie has laid into the Justice Secretary over armed police on the streets of Scotland.
The former Scottish Conservative leader said the controversy surrounding the issue highlighted the lack of public accountability since the creation of Police Scotland.
The presence of authorised firearms officers openly displaying their weapons while on routine patrol has drawn massive criticism, particularly in areas like the Highlands.
Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill has refused to get involved claiming it is an operation decision for Chief Constable Sir Stephen House.
Earlier this week he made a statement to the Scottish Parliament in which he promised to cap the number of armed officers at 2% of the total number.
In the Scottish Parliament yesterday Baroness Goldie said: “This whole issue lays bare the Achilles heel of a single police force that has no meaningful accountability to local areas – a threat about which my party repeatedly warned the cabinet secretary.”
She asked Mr MacAskill: “Does he now concede that the policy regrettably confirms that vital checks and balances have been lost by the rolling out of a uniform police culture across all of Scotland, regardless of need or appropriateness?”
The justice secretary replied: “No. I believe that there are now significantly more checks, balances and safeguards that existed under the former regime.”
Mr MacAskill said the Scottish Police Authority and the Scottish Parliament justice sub-committee – which did not exist previously – kept tabs on the police.
On top, there was also the Police Investigations and Review Commissioner, HM Inspector of Constabulary and the commitment for a three-monthly review of the number of armed police officers deployed, he said.