It’s Saturday night in Dundee city centre and police are carrying out what seems like a routine vehicle check.
But there was a shock in store for the passengers of the car stopped in Ward Road — one of the officers was carrying a gun.
A string of controversies over armed officers means members of the public are well aware Police Scotland has a division specially trained to carry weapons.
But the sight of an officer with a sidearm on routine duty left the driver of the car bemused and initially believing he had been stopped by the military police.
He said: “The passengers couldn’t believe armed police were actually walking about Dundee on a Saturday night. It shows the difference between police in our country that they never once emphasised they had a weapon.”
The Evening Telegraph went on to the streets of Dundee to get people’s views — and they were split over the issue of arming officers.
Councillor Alan Ross, convener of the city council’s community safety and public protection committee, said: “Although there hasn’t been any terrorist threat in this area, we cannot be complacent — heaven forbid if anything did happen and we weren’t prepared for it.
“These officers have received specialist training. They know how to handle and carry these weapons.
“I could understand the shock of the passengers in that car and it won’t be the case that every officer will be carrying a sidearm.”
The Scottish Conservatives’ legal affairs spokesman Gordon Lindhurst said encountering armed officers could “understandably” cause unease among the public. He added: “No matter what the excuse, these officers need to ensure that when they are responding to minor incidents these firearms are not on display.”
Superintendent Kirk Kinnell, head of armed policing, said: “In line with the Police Scotland standing authority, armed officers are on duty in the communities of Scotland and will respond to firearms incidents and threats to life.
“These officers are also expected to react to crimes and offences which they may encounter during their patrols and are also compelled to render assistance to members of the public should a situation of that nature arise. As such, residents in our communities may come into contact with officers who are wearing sidearms, as was the case on Saturday night when a car was stopped in Ward Road, Dundee.”