Saturday, July 23, 2005

Shoot to kill?

Before coming to the main point I want to make it clear that I have not read all the facts about yesterday's shooting and I am not making assumtpions about the rights and wrongs of this particular incident.

However I was struck by these comments reported in The Times:

Pc Norman Brennan, a campaigner for the victims of crime who has called for all officers to be routinely armed, said the shooting was an unfortunate consequence of being "at war". He said: "The long and the short of it is that this country is at war with terrorists and in war there are casualties. Normally in the majority of cases it is the enemy but innocent people will suffer. I am afraid it is tragic but that is part of any battle.

I am sure the family and friends of those wrongly shot by the Police and armed forces as a result of the 'war' will be delighted to know that they are an 'unfortunate consequence'.

It is utterly counter-productive for the security services to take anything other than the utmost caution in their use of force. Allowing the security services to drop their standards when it comes to use of force will simply exacerbate tensions with minority communities and provide those recruiting terrorists one more message to use.

It is just as wrong for an innocent person to be killed or injured by the security services as it is for them to be killed or injured by terrorists. The only justification for using potentially lethal force is if it is clear that there is an imminent threat to life, and one which cannot be stopped in any other way. Anything less and it is inevitable that the security services will join the terrorists in killing innocent people.

It does nothing for the families and friends of victims of terrorist attacks to know that more innocent people have been killed.

There is a real irony in the description of PC Norman Brennan as 'a campagner for the victims of crime'. He doesn't seem to be campaigning for the victim in this case.

1 comment:

Bishop Hill said...

What should the police have done differently (assuming they don't have the benefit of hindsight)?

They are taking flack for over-cautiousness for letting the guy on the bus. But they are criticised also for shooting the guy when he ran away.

Later revelations may prove me wrong but I can't see what else they could have done in the circumstances.