Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Tragic? Certainly. Necessary? Perhaps Not

I commented last year on the tragic case of a barrister who was shot by police after discharging a shotgun from his London flat. Investigations are proceeding, and according to this report, criminal proceedings are a possibility. I have nothing to say about this particular case, but I would like to ask what happened to the Metropolitan Police's once world-wide leadership in the art and science of managing armed sieges so that the culprits could be arrested and as few people as possible hurt. After incidents such as the Spaghetti House and Balcombe Street sieges police came from all over the world to learn the tactics of containment and negotiation from the Met. The sight of the IRA 'heroes' filing out of their hostages' flat with their hands up, under the muzzles of police weapons went round the world and denied the IRA the propaganda coup of a bloody shoot-out.
In the last analysis force must be met with force, and the police sometimes have to be prepared to shoot to kill, but given the proportion of mentally ill or confused people they have to deal with, I feel more comfortable with the idea of the police using time and patience as their main tactic, resorting to shooting only when unavoidable.

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