I recall back in the 70s and early 80s, working in London nicks and seeing rifles in a secure room and handgunsEveryone waxes lyrical about ‘the good old days of Dixon of Dock Green’... well, Sgt Dixon got shot, because as you note, it was the norm - until the mid 60’s - to draw a revolver from the desk Sgt if going out on night patrol, and Sgt Dixon didn’t and tried to confront an armed Crim.
Historically, unarmed plod are a new anomaly on the mainland. Until the changes in the 60’s, it wasnt at all out of the ordinary for beat coppers to get their own revolver on ticket for their job use. Look at newsreels of say the manhunt for Harry Roberts, every Officer and his dog is carrying a revolver or No4 Rifle pulled out of their station gun cupboard.
plenty of that generation knew how to handle a weapon, may have posted here before, but my fathers mate was a beat cop, also ex services, a more laid back and funny bloke you could not wish to meet, he was born to be a copper, but landing in Normandy from 500 feet gave him a a confidence, and the ability to judge a situation and make a lighting assessment
I cannot recall any of our local youths ever being anything but polite to him
proper old school beat cop