POLICE in Shetland have defended plans to train local officers in the use of tasers following criticism from isles MSP Tavish Scott.
Shetland area commander Lindsay Tulloch said arming officers with tasers was a national initiative in response to the increased number of assaults on police officers and emergency services.
The chief inspector revealed that in Shetland there have been 17 assaults on emergency workers, including police officers during the last year.
Scott had warned against "imposing" city policing on island communities where the number cases reported to police continues to decline.
But Tulloch said: "Officers in Shetland have attended incidents where there have been aggressive people in possession of knives, and they have been required to de-escalate that situation in order to keep themselves safe and the public safe.
"I think it is entirely appropriate that I ensure that my officers are trained and equipped with the best equipment to keep themselves and the public safe. I welcome the fact that Police Scotland has recognised that.
"Although they are far and wide between, these incidents can occur in the rural parts of Scotland as well as in the inner cities."
Scott said he was concerned about the issue after speaking to the chief inspector earlier in the week.
"Community policing in Shetland is, like everywhere, founded on the principle of consent. In this context, the prospect of officers attending routine incidents armed with Tasers is highly questionable," he said.
"As this is a national initiative I am writing to the chief constable asking for the risk assessment that justifies this approach in Shetland. This looks like city policing being imposed in the islands."
Tulloch said taser training would commence in August with the aim to have an officer with a taser available 24/7 soon afterwards.
"The taser is there to de-escalate a situation, and to use it is the very last resort. It is there to prevent an escalation of a situation and it is recognised that it can be used at a greater distance," the chief inspector said.