An ‘educational’ museum just opened in the UK that’s utterly grossing people out

Armed Police officer
Glen Black

Police representatives have celebrated the opening of the Museum of Armed Policing. Once the news got out, though, the public’s reaction wasn’t quite so warm.

The consequences of carrying weapons… but only for the public

The Museum of Armed Policing, based in Chatteris, Cambridgeshire, had its grand opening on 17 November with the cutting of a police line:

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In an interview with local paper Fenland Citizen, founder Mark Williams said:

This is not about glorifying guns, or armed police, we tell the whole story, we want people to understand the history behind where we are today.

Williams is also CEO of the Police Firearms Officers Association (PFOA). The museum is a project by PFOA, which the association said aims to “inform and educate on all aspects of armed policing in the UK”. Meanwhile, the BBC reported that a spokesman said its aim is to warn “young people about the consequences of carrying weapons”.

A PFOA description of the museum from February said it would have different “zones”, including:

  • Police firearms going back to the 1800s.
  • Royal Ulster Constabulary / Police Service of Northern Ireland.
  • Counter-terrorism.
  • Incidents that have impacted armed policing.
  • Less lethal technology.

And the BBC also said the museum contains a “virtual firing range”. The public can visit the museum from January 2019.

“Proud”

The museum has been welcomed by police representatives across the country:

It also received early support from Cambridgeshire Police Federation chair Liz Groom, who faced criticism for her response to Lush’s spycops campaign:

“Sick”

Not everyone was pleased about the news though. Some questioned if the museum would reveal the whole history of armed policing:

The Network for Police Monitoring (Netpol) also suggested the museum’s stated aim may not be exactly on point:

While others summed their reaction up in just a couple of words:

Armed threat

Armed policing is on the increase. In July, a Guardian article said operations were up 19%, to 18,746, across England and Wales in 2017/18. Simon Chesterman, lead on armed policing for the National Police Chiefs’ Council, blamed international terrorism and increased violent crime for the rise. Chesterman has also floated the idea of routinely arming officers on the street.

But high-profile armed incidents by police across the country makes routinely arming them a worrying prospect. The killings of Anthony Grainger, Mark Duggan, Jean Charles de Menezes and Azelle Rodney were mired in criticism, for example. Meanwhile, there have also been notable errors with tasers. These include Avon and Somerset Police tasering its own race relations adviser as well as a man with autism, and Sussex Police tasering a disabled father and son.

As a result, it’s not hard to see why a ‘museum’ for police with guns disgusts some people. The number of people shot and killed by police in England and Wales is lower than some other countries. But routine arming isn’t going to decrease that figure. We must confront any attempt to make this idea more acceptable to the public.

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Featured image via Tony Hisgett/Flickr

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