.In the Seventies the average British Bobby in true Dixon of Dock Green and Z-Cars fashion was armed with no more than his whistle, Hyatt cuffs and 15 & a half inch truncheon. There was no centralised authority controlling firearms issued to the country's Police forces. Each Chief Constable, subject to the approval of his police authority, could decide how many and what types of weapons were necessary for his force.
By way of example, in 1972 all the police forces under Her Majesty's Chief Inspector of Constabulary in Scotland held the following weapons:
Police Officers assigned to protection duties were routinely armed, but for the majority, the policy was that firearms were carried only "when there is reason to suppose that a police officer may have to face an armed man and used only if human life is endangered".
The Metroplitan Police recieved their first dedicated firearms unit, D6 (later D11,PT17, SO19, now CO19) in 1966. The first "Instant Response Cars" with armed police officers were introduced by West Yorkshire Police in 1976 - these are now common place and known as Armed Response Vehicles (ARVs).
67% of rifles in Police use throughout the UK were .303 SMLE MkIV No.2. Following a working party on Police firearms in 1970, the Enfield L39A1 was chosen as a replacement. Small adjustments to the weapon were recommended by the Police Scientific Development Branch to create the 7.62mm Enfield Enforcer.
The most common hand gun was the Smith & Wesson M&P/M10 revolver. In addition to the weapons held by each Police force there were several secret arms stores in the UK stocked with SMLEs and Stirling Sub-machine guns for arming the police wholesale in event of a war or national crisis where extremes measures may be required to control the population.
Under plans for Nuclear War with the Soviet Union - there would be 'flying columns' of police - 100 or more strong that would be stationed at strategic locations throughout the UK.
Baton rounds and tear gas were available in 14 Police Forces in 1979.
Oct 7, 1985 - Seven people were arrested. At the height of the riotings, mobs of black and white youths used shotguns, gasoline bombs and other weapons in running battles with police.
LONDON (Reuters) - Vowing to meet force with force, London's police chief today authorized use of tear gas and plastic bullets after a policeman was hacked to death with a machete in the worst rioting ever seen in England.
[Kenneth Newman] said he had reluctantly authorized the use of tear gas and plastic bullets to quell future riots, and [Richard Wells] said the time had come for Britons "to prepare themselves for tougher options."
Police have used tear gas on mainland Britain only once - in 1981 against rioters in the Toxteth district of Liverpool. They have never used plastic bullets, though British troops have employed them in Northern Ireland.