Thinking For The Individual

Formerly known as 'Thinking For The People', this site offers some reflections on the state of British society and her people from the perspective of a libertarian Conservative with a passionate belief in the pillars of freedom and responsibility.

Sunday, July 24, 2005

Shoot To Kill: The Defence

It was bound to happen... and it has!

The political elites are in a frenzied debate about the police's 'shoot-to-kill' policy, by which any potential suicide bomber is, as the word suggests, shot and killed. It was this approach that killed an innocent Brazilian man, Jean Charles de Menezes, 27, at Stockwell station last Friday.

Notably, the Chairman of the Association of Chief Police Officers' terrorism committee, Ken Jones, has denied that the police operates a 'shoot-to-kill' policy.

And he's right. He says, rightly, that any steps that can be taken in that series of split seconds before a suspected suicide bomber could be set free to unleash devastation should be taken. "Everything else must be tried first before we consider taking life to save life. However, if we get to the point of no return as it were there's a moral duty, if not possibly a legal duty, on us as police officers who are armed and able to perhaps deflect an attack to take life to save life."

If a police officer suspects a man with dark skin might be a suicide bomber just because he is carrying a rucksack into a Tube station, then he would be treading that fine line between protecting the safety of the community and downright racism. But if a small force of police officers on the ground, as they were on Friday, become suspicious of the same individual; if they pursue the man on foot as he runs away from them; and if they shout 'stop, police' yet still the individual runs away, those officers would be quite right to pursue.

On Friday morning, Jean Charles de Menezes was running away from a number of armed police officers who were suspicious of him. For some reason, he didn't stop. Instead, he continued to run. You might say that he was running away because he was scared, or maybe as the officers were wearing plain clothes, he thought they were some kind of gangland thugs! But if I were a police officer on duty last Friday morning, and a suspicious man was heading onto a Tube platform, before running away from me as I tried to approach him, I would have shot the man and I would be standing by my decision today.

With the benefit of hindsight we can see that the man was innocent. Yet on Friday morning, by running away from the police after acting suspiciously, Jean Charles de Menezes was the biggest threat to public safety for those officers on duty.

The 'shoot-to-kill' policy is a necessary evil. Unfortunately, on Friday morning the approach caused one death. But when you look at the story of the events as they unfolded, it's not hard to see why that death occured. And the blame for the death can not be placed squarely onto the policy.


At 8:44 am, Blogger Serf said...

It was a tragic mistake, but had they not shot him and he had been a terrorist, the mistake would have been far worse.

There are serious questions to be asked, but I guess the crime rate will plummet, as everyone told to stop by the police does so meekly.

At 11:53 am, Anonymous Paradoxxx said...


1) These cops were plain-clothes cops with the only visual of them being officers/orifices of the law were caps that they put on later stating "police"

2) According to severeal eye-witnesses no warning or stop-order was given.

3) In the gradually enlarging British police-state just about anyone who is not white-bread, WASP, British is perceived as a potential terrorist and therefore open to surveillance.

4) I didn't realise wearing a jacket was now punishable by death sentence.

5) I'd always had a suspicion that police orifices were a bunch of power-hungery, biggotted baffoons with all the IQ of a can of tuna. (Let's face it, would anyone with any talent or intelligence want to be a pig?) This senseless killing only reinforces this.

At 12:40 pm, Blogger mlwhitt said...

I can see this both ways. I see it as a tragic loss. He shouldn't have ran, but since he wasn't from the country, and in Brazil when the police chase after you, maybe it would be best to run...... Don't know. But then on the other side we live in a world were the next bombing could happen any moment and the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few I suppose.

Like paradoxxx I do worry about the U.K. and U.S. becoming police states.


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