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A media view on routine arming

May 17, 2006
The Wolverhampton Express and Star has the following on the Comments page. I think it hits the nail right on the head and shows the difference between local and national journalism.

National papers tend to go for the dramatic headline, whereas the locals (in my opinion anyway) tend to reflect the feelings of their readers. If my opinion is right, then this local has my support.

It has shocked many that, despite the constant threats from guns and
knives, three out of four police officers still would not want to go onto our
streets bearing firearms. Almost alone in the world, our policemen do not carry
guns as a matter of course.

But who would want to be a policeman or woman carrying a gun, knowing
that every time you had to use the weapon you faced the risk of being
disciplined by your own force or sued by a criminal?

Even for unarmed police officers, tackling a criminal has become a
legal minefield. Pc John Ashurst, a policeman for 11 years, has received two
bravery awards. And yet, today, he is facing disciplinary action after arresting
a teenager suspected of threatening a headmaster with a knife.

After Pc Ashurst gave chase there was a struggle and the youth banged
his head. The teenager needed three stitches, made a complaint and Pc Ashurst
was detained for five hours questioning and remains under investigation.

And this is not an isolated case. We have become a society where the
first thought is to sue. A criminal is arrested and almost automatically alleges
police brutality. Aside from the physical risks of their job, police officers
face a constant danger of being sued or prosecuted for “traumatising” some petty
crook or thug every time they make an arrest.

Who can blame them for shying away from the potential risks of carrying
a gun. The lawyers who profit from these worthless cases must be salivating at
the prospect. Within a few weeks of our police being armed, the courts would be
packed with cases as wounded criminals or their relatives sought

Our police are already sick to the back teeth of red tape and legal
threats for doing their job. The implications of being issued with firearms are
enough to make the most intrepid officer think twice.

6 Comments leave one →
  1. intellectual idiot permalink
    May 18, 2006 15:37

    Actually I never saw it from that stand point before.

    Its a interesting point.

    Though it is annoying criminals have any rights at all.

  2. Anonymous permalink
    May 18, 2006 20:09

    what a great piece of journalism….!

    I think I’ll get a subscription to that rag.. 🙂

  3. Stan Still permalink
    May 18, 2006 22:40


    here you are:-

  4. Anonymous permalink
    May 19, 2006 06:03

    they say three out of four, but the reality is one of them works in school liason sitting in an office all day, one of them is on his last few years and can’t be bothered with the hassle, and the other is the weird one in the station who lives in a far from real world. The one left, the average copper trying to do their job without being sued or killed is the one who voted yes for it!!!

    Blind bastards the government, the higher ups, and the damn public. The shit will hit the fan one day, its a sorry worl we live in when the bosses and government would rather see a dead policeman in the paper than a dead crook!!!

  5. Anonymous permalink
    May 19, 2006 09:50

    When I read comments questioning why criminals have rights at all I fear that people are refusing to learn from history. Or perhaps they’re learning from President Bush. Either way it’s very, very scary. Letting the government just drag people away never to be seen again? Just say NO. Sure, I *think* the US doesn’t currently disappear very many of the people that annoy their govt, and I’m pretty sure that the UK isn’t helping them much. I’d prefer to say “none” and “not at all”, but that would be demonsratably untrue.

    One question on the armed Police front: what’s the deal with the Chumbawamba song “Without Reason Or Rhyme (The Killing Of Harry Stanley)”? Key line in the lyrics: “It is a great thing that we have an unarmed police force in this country. It is perhaps an even greater thing that a force that is unarmed is able to shoot so many people.” reading the BBC: is interesting.

    Balancing the apparent willingness of armed Police to gun people down in the street against the nastiness they have to deal with every day is not easy, but I think removing the remaining checks and balances is a bad, bad idea. better to fllow the Canadian and Kiwi approach of trying to prevent cops needing to be armed in the first place. Side effects of that, of course, include fewer prisons as a consequence of the lower crime rate and lower taxes as a result of the consequent savings. But far be it from me to suggest such things to the country that gave us tabloid newspapers and Margaret Thatcher.

  6. Anonymous permalink
    May 19, 2006 09:59

    OK, I go to protests here in Oz from time to time. So I get to see the Police dealing with peaceful protestors. because of that I’m utterly opposed to giving Police anything more dangerous than ballpoint pens. As we saw in NZ last week, there are too many cases of outright brutality in the Police force to allow any confidence that they’ll act responsibly FYI: two cops arrested a guy, handcuffed him on the ground, then once he was immobilised, pepper sprayed him. Captured on security video for your viewing pleasure.

    It’s a question of whether we want the rule of law, of is Judge Dredd our model? Sure, it’s simple and cheap to have the Police find, judge and punish people. Can’t argue with that. But it moves us further away from a justice system into outright vigilantism. The current legal system is bad enough, but at least there’s still some opportunity of consideration before people are locked up, and a small chance that the innocent will escape punishment.

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