Norway police to bear arms until December
Norway's police are to carry weapons until December, after Norway's justice minister argued that Friday's terror attacks in Paris were a warning to "live in the real world".
Norway's Police Directorate announced the decision in a press release sent out on Monday afternoon.
"The Police Director has decided that the transition to forward storage of police firearms has been postponed until December 1 at 00:00," it said. "Until then armament will be maintained as it has been."
The change followed an emergency meeting between the Police Directorate, the criminal police Kripos, and PST, Norway's police intelligence services, convened at the request of Norway’s justice minister Anders Anundsen.
Just hours before the terrorist attacks in Paris on Friday night, Norway's Police Directorate announced that it planned to end a temporary order given in November 2014 for police to carry pistols on their service belts.
On Sunday Anundsen told VG taht he had no requested the Directorate to immediately carry out a new threat assessment in the wake of events in Paris.
"In light of the tragic events in France, I have asked the Police Directorate to reconsider the decision to end armament, with the evaluation of other risk mitigation measures," he told VG on the weekend. "They will consider this in relation to a threat assessment from PST [Norway's intelligence services."
On Monday, Anundsen argued that in the wake of Friday’s brutal terror attacks in Paris, it might be time the country started to “live in the real world” and considered allowing police to be permanently armed.
“The question is whether we have come to the point where we must renounce the luxury of having an unarmed police,” he told Norway’s state broadcaster NRK on Monday. “It is extremely important that we do not focus blindly at what is an ideal situation, because we actually live in the real world.”
Ulf Leirstein, the party’s justice spokesman, argued the decision the police had announced on Friday was “unwise”, and said that if they did not reverse it, he would seek to force them to do so through enacting a new law.
“If the Justice Department still manages to come to a conclusion that there is less of a terrorist threat today than there was a year ago, then I believe Parliament should take up the debate and introduce the permanent arming of Norwegian police,” he said.
Hadia Tajik, deputy leader of Norway’s Labour Party, sharply criticised Anundsen and his colleague, accusing them of seeking to exploit the tragic events in Paris in order to push for one of their party’s longstanding policies -- despite it being voted down by a majority in parliament only months previously.
“I had hoped that the Progress Party would not give in to temptation after the terror attacks in France,” she said. “It took three days before Leirstein attacked an entire religion and Anundsen used the tragedy to start talking about general armament.”
She said that in her opinion arming the police would do nothing to make Norway safer in the face of terrorism.
“France has, and had before the attack, an armed police,” she pointed out.