Police chief Sir Stephen House warns that after the bloodbath in Paris, Scotland should not let down its guard.
Armed officers will shoot to kill if terrorists attack Scotland, he says.
He says that his force is ready to gun down jihadists, whether they are armed with a machine gun, a car or a knife.
“If they are faced with a man with a knife they have a range of options, all the way up to lethal,” said the head of Police Scotland. “Officers will make their own decision on the street using their good judgement.
“If somebody is wielding a knife and is doing damage, or threatening to do damage to people in public, then they will be met with full force.
“We hope for the best but prepare for the worst.”
House is putting his force on a war footing after the recent attack on Paris left 17 dead at a magazine office and a Jewish supermarket, Daily Record reports.
The terror threat in Scotland is currently “severe”, the second highest level of alert. This means that an attack is seen as “likely”. House warns that, after the bloodbath in Paris, Scotland should not let down its guard.
The last attempted mass murder in the UK was in Glasgow airport in 2007. Officer Lee Rigby was attacked and killed in London in 2013, by two men who ran him down in a car then hacked him to death with knives and a cleaver. House says that there is no way to predict where the next attack will come from, or what form it will take.
“It would be daft to rule out an attack in Scotland and we don't feel in any way complacent. We've obviously had Lee Rigby since, but in terms of trying to kill large numbers of people untargeted, then it was Glasgow.
“We've had returnees from the Middle East, we've got people who have been radicalised online in Scotland and people from Scotland who have gone to the Middle East. To pretend there's a difference at the moment isn't true.”
He does not rule anything out: a sophisticated attack like the one mounted on Charlie Hebdo, or a solo operator with a carving knife.
“It's dangerous for the public, the security service and the police to think it's bound to be two or three men with Kalashnikovs. We would hope access to firearms is not that easy in this country, so what you could have is an attack with somebody just armed with a knife or driving a car.”
Fewer than two per cent of Scottish officers carry fire arms and House does not want to see the whole force armed. The armed cops are volunteers and don't receive any extra cash. Their boss describes them as “very good at it. They are proportionate and restrained.”
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