Arming the police

In the aftermath of the appalling execution of two female police officers in Greater Manchester, it would be very easy to make a knee jerk reaction, and this something we must not do.

To give the police credit, Sir Hugh Orde, president of ACPO, has ruled out the routine arming of police. He said “Guns don’t necessarily solve the problem. You only have to look at the American experience.” I think he is quite right, although you would be wrong to assume that this means that the police don’t carry guns.

Firearms are issued where they are considered necessary by senior officers. Diplomatic close protection officers carry them. There are ARVs (Armed Response Vehicles) out and about all the time. So the weapons are there.

And, of course, they are prominently displayed when there is a high security alert. I’ve certainly seen coppers with automatic weapons at airports. In these circumstances they are there to reassure the public.

So do we need to follow some of our EU counterparts and allow the police to carry sidearms as part of the standard kit? I don’t think so. There is absolutely nothing to suggest that had the two female offices would still be alive if they had been armed. It is difficult to draw a side arm when you have just been shot to death.

I think that the relatives of the late John Charles Menezes would also agree with this view?

I used to shoot as a hobby. I am aware of the constraints that were placed on members of the public who shoot for a hobby. In the knee jerk reaction that followed the shootings in Dunblane – something that would never had happened if the police had properly vetted the perpetrator – the government made it next to impossible for me to continue my hobby. This was totally disproportionate and ineffective.

We should consider carefully what can be learnt from these tragic events. I agree with Hugh Orde – but I also believe that it is time to consider reintroducing the death penalty for cop shooting and terrorism.

I say ‘consider’ because I do not want to be accused of a knee jerk reaction. I have held this view for some time and simply believe that it has just been further reinforced…

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