I’d like to see a good percentage police patrol vehicles carrying a rifle and someone trained to use it. In a better world I’d rather see an unarmed police force, but we’re going from bad to worse. The basic idea is to give officers and the public confidence the right kind of back up can be brought in quickly when nutters of criminal and terrorist varieties kick off.
There’s a sad history of shootings going wrong. Duggan and Grainer look to be part of this, but so was the awful accident in training that killed Ian Terry. There is always a price to pay in practical matters. Many believe we can’t properly arm our police for fears of escalation – but this ignores the stresses of working as a cop, or being innocent participants in some killing spree, without speedy containment. There is a wider story than the odd sequence of bungles.
The Grauniad has just produced this piece of dross on Grainger - http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2012/mar/11/girlfriend-accuses-police-fatal-car-shooting - and much of the problem from Stockwell, through Duggan and on to this concerns utterly false reporting and the lack of ability to state the honest case quickly, for a variety of legal and PR ‘reasons’. Our sub-judice laws are antiquated and based on silly ideas of what will prejudice a fair trial – as in Leveson and the Akers’ testimony.
Justice delayed is justice denied and we should allow quick and accurate reporting – indeed insist on it – and ensure we have jurors capable of making decisions on evidence in court, rather than turkeys swayed by earlier barking rot in the media or for that matter allowed in court as in Nico Bento and the well-known Irish cases. The current system encourages gossip and for police and public bodies to engage in secrecy under the claim they have to wait for the day in court.
We don’t know why Grainger or Duggan were shot or even de Menezes. We do know GMP even killed one of its own in training and along with a catalogue from around the world know officers are ramped up and will make mistakes. In one incident, a black detective was shot 13 times by his own (he lived). I was involved in some very farcical activity myself and have no faith a court and jury could understand why a weapon might be wrongly discharged and what the pressures of not taking a shot can be. Can one, for instance, shoot a terrorist running away, in order to protect the public in the future?
Our laws need bringing up to speed in a number of areas to include the necessity of quick statements of facts within days of incidents that cannot be ruled as prejudicing future trials. The trials of the Birmingham Six and Guildford Four were clearly prejudiced by Irish hysteria and god knows what happened in the Bento case in which judge and jury were convinced by claptrap expert non-evidence. This had nothing to do with the press reporting facts in an early delivery of what the prosecution case was.
If Grainger has survived, could he possibly face a fair trial given his record has been made public? Can the others arrested given we know this was a suspected armed robbery? The answer is ‘yes’ – and so can various journalist managers after Akers. There either is evidence or not. That many people have no clue what evidence is and believe gossip, religion and other rot is always a matter for a court – sadly our courts aren’t particularly good at determining evidence themselves, with judges who would struggle with O level chemistry poncing on about which forensic evidence to believe. Denning called utterly crap evidence good against known standards and he is hardly alone.
My contention is our cops are being put through fear on a regular basis that wouldn’t be there if we had a more honest system and could trust to wider firearms issue. In the way of this is the fear of telling the truth quickly when something goes wrong, including the ludicrous story of shouting ‘armed police’ at Stockwell and the branding of at least 17 witnesses as muppets incapable of hearing it — when the obvious need was for quick shooting to prevent a terrorist pushing the button rather than giving him reason to do so – except he was just an innocent man hyped by a trail of incompetence into what he was not in the shooters’ minds. The focus on the shooter is a mistake and full of gossip-based idiocy. We need a very different debate.