Police officers across the UK should have a weapon at home to defend themselves, an MP has suggested.
Jim Shannon, the Democratic Unionist MP for Strangford, told the House of Commons that officers in Northern Ireland carry a weapon when they are on and off duty.
And he suggested officers in other parts of the UK should follow suit as he took part in an adjournment debate about police officer safety led by the Labour MP Holly Lynch.
Addressing Ms Lynch, Mr Shannon said: “In Northern Ireland, you will be aware that police officers carry personal weapons, both on duty and at home because of the threat that comes to them.
“I have spoken to you about this today, you may have a different opinion, but do you feel that it’s important that we protect police officers in totality at home and at work and one way of doing that is to give them a personal weapon they can access at any time?
“That gives them safety and gives their family safety as well.”
Ms Lynch, the MP for Halifax, replied: “Of course the circumstances in Northern Ireland are very serious and really quite different to some of the circumstances in this country.
“Whilst I am asking the minister today to consider all of the options available to provide the safety and resources that police officers need on the streets I think that’s certainly one that could be considered with the specifics of Northern Ireland policing.”
Ms Lynch said police forces are now “stretched like never before”.
She suggested funding cuts had resulted in more officers going out on patrol on their own therefore making them more vulnerable to assault.
Policing Minister Brandon Lewis said: “Police officers should be able to carry out their duties without fear of assault.
“So let me be very clear, assaulting a police officer is completely unacceptable and anyone who is found guilty should expect to face the full force of the law.”
Mr Lewis said figures published in the summer indicated there were an estimated 23,000 assaults on officers across all forces.
He added sentencing guidelines ensure an assault on a police officer is treated more severely in appropriate cases.