Police Rules of Engagement ROE
I suggested in my last posting that Met Police commissioner Blair should stop messing around with 'policies' and issue 'Rules of Engagement' or ROEs for police firearms officers similar to those given to soldiers. I'm delighted to read in the Daily Telegraph this morning that a Freedom of Information document reveals that Police Blair in fact wrote to the Home Office Permanent Secretary asking for this very thing, just after the Stockwell tube shooting.
The Commissioner still however remains confused about shoot-to-kill, imagining that there are other lesser types of shooting - 'shoot-to-maim' possibly, or "shoot-to-incapacitate", and his now famous "shoot-to-kill-in-order-to-protect".
The reality remains as it has always been - that once you open fire, you must expect that you are going to kill the target - a very serious decision. If you attempt to 'aim off', it's likely you will miss, and then you might hit an innocent person, either directly in the confusion, or via a riccochet.
For incapacitation, British police now use the US-made "Tazer" stun gun - which could itself kill somebody with a heart complaint, or through causing a suspect to fall awkwardly. For reliable maiming, a truncheon is as good as anything.
For every police officer, using the appropriate minimum amount of force for a particular situation is a vital judgement they must be ready to make at any time. For firearms officers, this is even more important, for once they arrive on the scene, everybody assumes the situation is likely to be life-threatening for somebody.
But under the law, even firarms officers are required to use minimum force, which is a vital aspect of the trust between British police and the public - a relationship that simply does not exist between the police and public of most other countries.
This trust is what ultimately will defeat terrorism in the United Kingdom. But we also learned today that Police Blair has tried to delay the IPCC investigation into the Stockwell shooting - to protect police anti-terrorist operations. He risks eroding this vital trust, which is the reason why announcing some kind of result to the Stockwell shooting investigation should not be delayed any longer.