Armed police could be deployed to deal with drink-drivers in East Renfrewshire, the Barrhead News can reveal.

Police Scotland has this week officially extended the role of its armed response vehicle (ARV) officers.

The move means armed officers will be sent to a range of non-firearms calls to support regular officers.

Police Scotland’s Chief Superintendent Brian McInulty insisted the new deployment model will not affect officers’ ability to deal with terrorism and serious organised crime.

He said: “ARV officers will now support colleagues and the public by responding to a wider range of incidents, with an emphasis 
on public protection, vulnerability and speed of response.

“This will include incidents where their enhanced medical skills are of great benefit to the public. Where appropriate, they will 
also support local and national campaigns, such as drink-driving.

“The revised deployment model will not detract ARV offices from their primary purpose and these officers will continue to be managed by specially-trained supervisors across Scotland. This will ensure ARV 
officers remain available to be deployed to firearms and threat-to-life incidents.”

Mr McInulty wrote to Clarkston, Netherlee and Williamwood councillor David Macdonald ahead of the changes being introduced.
Mr Macdonald said: “I think the main reason (for the change) is lack of resources for community policing. They have to draw in officers from other departments to increase presence.

“ARV officers are like firemen. They have to be operationally ready at a moment’s notice but spend the majority of their time waiting.

“The idea is that, while they wait, they can be patrolling like unarmed officers.

“I think it’s the direction the UK is going. I don’t think it will be more than 10 years before all police officers will be armed.”

After Mr Macdonald posted the letter online, he received a varied response from residents.

Jim Wilson said: “In an increasingly aggressively libertarian society, I have never had a problem with the concept of a routinely armed police force.”

But Roger Pollock disagreed and said: “I think this is pretty disgusting, it increases the firearms culture.

"The public are in more danger from the proliferation of firearms on our streets by authorities than they are from serious crime or terrorism.”