Friday, July 28, 2006

de Menezes shooting officers back on full duty

I was taken aback at the news that the officers who carried out the public execution of Jean Charles de Menezes with seven shots to the head at point blank range are now back on full firearms duty.

No matter your view of their culpability or lack of it, the fact remains that there has STILL been no decision on possible disciplinary measures against them; but more important, surely the experience and knowledge of having executed a completely innocent man must call into question their suitability for continued civilian firearms duty - or are we to believe that they are automatons with no qualms about the possibility of being required to do the same thing again? - All in a day's work eh?


  1. Anonymous8:38 pm

    If I can make so bold as to reply -forgive me, my blogging skills are such that I can't work out how toleave my name - the officers in question have been cleared of any criminal responsibility in respect of the De Menezes disaster.

    To take your argument to it's logical conclusion, no police officer, or for that matter, soldier, sailor or airman unlucky enough to be tasked with the purported defence of this country by his or her seniors - you will note I avoid the term "superiors," a perjorative and inaccurate term -would be able to resume their duties until the completion of a public enquiry, potentially years later.

    I accept your scepticism of police intentions and their admittedly partial action in respect of the suppression CA; but please, remember that these firearms officers are amongst our last bastions against the ever present threat of terror.

    Do we really want to pillory them?

    If so, just how long do you think it will take for every firearms officer in the country to - in the vernacular - 'chuck their ticket in'?

    Is that what anyone really wants?

    And yes, of course I am a serving -unarmed, police officer. I wouldn't have one thrown at me.

    Would you?

  2. Anon 8:38: You misunderstand my point.

    A serving soldier who kills in wartime has a rather different experience to a civilian police officer who carries out an execution (lets not mince words because that is exactly what it was) only to discover their victim was entirely innocent.

    I do not seek to pillory them as you say. There are two salient points:

    1. They MAY still face disciplinary proceeding.
    2. In light of 1. AND the nature of their experience, their ability to continue to perform as though nothing had happened is likely to be impaired.

    And no, having been on the receiving end of gung-ho police violence, I do NOT regard armed police officers as being a 'last bastion' against anything. I regard them as bloody dangerous and to be avoided at almost any cost. When did the police EVER shoot a guilty man? - plenty of innocent, misguided, mentally ill etc - but no clearly guilty ones that I can recall. And when were the police ever the subject of meaningful sanctions for such shootings? The point is they KNOW they will get away with it - and that makes them doubly dangerous.

    The older I get, the less sympathy I have with the police at all. They are becoming the politically-correct, armed and uniformed agents of an oppressive State for my money and their subservience to blatant political control shows.

  3. Anonymous12:15 pm

    In framing my reply, can I first indicate at least one area in which we are in total agreement, and that is the content of your final paragraph. I have been a serving officer for well over twenty years - in a large northern force, I would add, not the Met - and I can confirm that the raison d'etre of the service (look, it's even affecting me!)has been subverted by the insidious creed of political correctness, enforced with Taliban-like zeal by those senior officers, few of whom would recogise a criminal if they fell across one, who hope to secure further promotion by impressing their political masters with their fervent imposition of the New Order. I would suggest that it is as a direct consequence of this phenomenon that you have come to view the 'police' as a threat to democracy and frankly I can ery much sympathise, if not totally agree with your argument.

    Having got that off my chest, let me turn to some of your other points.

    You say that no police offecers involed in fatal shootings have ever been the subject of 'meaningful' sanctions. Not stictly correct, I'm afraid. I can remember two cases, where the officer in question was prosecuted for murder, albeit both were subsequently acquitted following full trials. Indeed, one of those cases made Enlish legal history, as the officer was only cleared following an unprecedented third trial, after two other juries could not agree a verdict.

    Yes, I hear you saying that as they were acquitted, they were not the subject of 'meaningful' sanctions. I'm sorry, but several years of wondering whether you are going to jail seems a pretty sobering sanction to me.

    In addition to these two cases, you will probably remember the case in Sussex, where an unarmed man was shot. Several police officers of various ranks were prosecuted for an offence of misconduct in a public office (the same offence our beloved Deputy PM could have faced, but I digress) and all were again acquitted. This case subsequently cost the then Chief Constable of that force, Paul Whitehouse, his job.

    Moving on, yes, there are numerous cases of police officers shooting mentally disordered people. But remember, in all these cases, the mentally disordered person has threatened officers, or other members of the public with what were, or appeared to be, lethal weapons. Please bear in mind that officers in these circumstances do not have the luxury of studying the circumstances in depth before acting, unlike those who investigate them afterwards. Would anyone suggest that they should allow themselves or others to be moving targets? They are truly damned if they do, and damned if they don't.

    With apologies for the length of this reply, please imagine a set of circumstances where all currently authorised firearms offices were to down tools. Do youseriously think that such a course of action would make this country a safer place? Yes, they make mistakes, they are only human after all, but would anyone like to be presented with a situation in which the only people carrying firerms were the criminals?

    God forbid.

    By the way an enjoyable discussion and I'd still never have a gun thrown at me!

  4. I guess I was exaggerating to make a point - well a few points actually. I belong to a community that has been traditonally as supportive of the police as any - Farming/Hunting. But a sea change has occured and it has accelerated during the period of this government, towards the "remote, uniformed armed agents of an oppressive State" type force I mentioned.

    I vividly remember being roughly manhandled and given a damn good talking to by a copper as a kid; it did me no harm and I grew up with considerable respect for the local police as defenders and protectors of my community. That local knowledge has largely vanished and kids have no respect whatsoever for - for anything. On the few occasions in the past 10 years when I have had 'need' of police assistance (Burglary, paint-stripper on car, threatening material through the post - all animal rights related) I might as well have saved myself a lot of time and effort. Defend myself? - forget it. I would be the one prosecuted.

    On the question of those two officers; I still contend that, unless they are soulless automatons, (ie can kill when ordered without exercising any judgement of their own), their psychological state after what happened ought to make them unsuitable to continue in that role. If they ARE soulless automatons, then it's a telling commentary of just where we have come as a society. I'm not even suggesting they be punished.

    On the threat of terrorism. In the year since those London Bombs (52 dead from terrorists), 3,500 plus have been killed on the roads. I know which is the bigger risk to my life and a good illustration of the gross panicky over-reaction that now occurs regularly - Corporal Jones style - and with such tragic consequences.

    I also firmly believe that, in all the circumstances of this case, if there are no SERIOUS consequences for individual officers somewhere in the chain of command (not necessarily the firearms officers themselves) then the perception that they can get away it is reinforced. I know a balance has to be struck - but it seems to me to be WAY out of kilter right now - and getting worse.

  5. Chuck Unsworth8:40 pm

    I'm sorry, the police officer whose comments are shown above sorely misunderstands public opinion, as do so many of his colleagues. Not only is there a perception that policemen can - and do - kill innocent civilians all too often, but there is also a public belief that the police priority is to look after their own.

    There are far too many cases of individual officers who are brought before the courts being treated in a suspiciously lenient manner. One has only to look at even simple offences like speeding and the like to confirm this. And as to being placed in a stressful situation whilst awaiting trial for shooting an innocent man, well that goes with the territory, in much the same way as it does for many soldiers in Iraq. The difference, of course is that those soldiers are regularly - virtually daily - under attack from bombs rockets and small-arms fire, and having to make decisions about the deployment of lethal force and its consequences.

    Set aside the matter of the justice of the case for a moment. It may not be to the liking of your correspondent, but it is certainly true that there is a general and increasing level of mistrust, even contempt, for our police. What is also interesting is how attitudes of police officers have changed since the police changed from being a 'force' to a 'service'.

    It would be wise for the police to understand that the blatant misinformation uttered by the likes of Sir Ian Blair over such matters as the De Menenzes fiasco does nothing to bolster their position. Such appallingly crass and unprofessional behaviour by a senior copper does nothing to foster their relationship with the public.

    The cops are now seen to be solely interested in news management. As for being 'officers of the peace' and all that entails, well you can forget that....

  6. Anonymous10:48 pm

    Apologies for not replying earlier, but I've been a bit busy packing for my annual holiday, as a consequence of which, this will have to be my last offering on the subject.

    Please let me make my position crystal clear: I do not and would not attempt to defend the ridiculous misinformation campaign which the Met indulged in in the direct aftermath of the de Menezes killing. Somebody, somewhere made an absolutely appalling error of judgement - whether that was Blair or the Met's Press Office, I can only guess - and frankly whoever was responsible should be dismissed, because frankly, they lied and that is, as I'm sure everyone would agree, wholly unacceptable.

    Warming to that theme, I have to agree that significant efforts are made to 'spin' news stories so that we (by which I mean my particular force, as I have no experience of any others) appear in as favourable a light as possible. But in doing so, aren't we simply following the current orthodoxy? I do not imply that such a policy is correct; I simply say that once again, we are following the lead of our new masters in Whitehall.

    And, yes Chuck, I do think that we as a force ('service' in police Newspeak) are in serious danger of completely losing touch with the wider public, although whether that has more to do with the insidious speed-camera taxation policy rather than high profile disasters such as the case we've been discussing, I'll leave to others to decide.

    What I can tell you from personal experience is that there is an increasing level of scepticism from the general public about just whose side we are on. Sadly, some of this scepticism is born of their interaction with young, gung-ho cops, who have yet to learn their street craft. Believe me, it pains me to write those words, it really does.

    Moving on, I can't find I actually disagree with in Sabretache's latest remarks. Perhaps in concluding, the observation I would wish to make would be to ask you all to suspend your understandable anger for a short time and put the shooting into it's proper context.

    Remember, just the day before, four men had attempted further mass-murder on the streets of our capital city. Two weeks before that, four other had succeeded in such an enterprise, killing in excess of fifty innocent people and maiming God knows how many others.

    It was in that febrile atmosphere that the Stockwell incident developed. In my view, the least culpable of those involved in the whole, disaster were the two poor bloody infantrymen who actually shot de Menezes. They had been told that he was a suicide bomber and acted in accordance with their orders. Whether Operation Kratos was appropriate response to such a threat is an entirely separate issue.

    Were errors made elsewhere in the chain of command? undoubtedly. Serious ones at that, more than likely by officers stratospherically senior to the two shooters. Should there be a public enquiry? Why not. Should those making the errors account for them and suffer disciplinary sanctions where appropriate? Without doubt.

    While we're at it, why don't we have an enquiry about the collapsing trust in the police in this country, before it is too late - if it isn't already - and we find ourselves reviled in much the same way as some of our opposite number are in other tyrannies the world over.

    Forgive me, I'm now signing off for my holidays, which I will be taking in a country with a fully armed police force. As I have said before, God forbid that such a thing should ever happen here...

  7. I agree with you.

    The shooting of Menezes was a murder. Murder is defined legally, to put it simply, as killing someone with the intention of killing them. That is exactly what happened and yet there has not even been any charges brought. What happened with Menezes is at least a manslaughter charge and that's being generous. Like you, I am appalled. I am seriously considering leaving the UK. So much now seems to be happening that I cannot simply stand by and tacitly agree with it by paying my taxes.



  8. If I had shot an innocent man in the head (or anywhere else)I think I would be considering another career not putting myself in a position where I may do it again.
    I speak as an ex soldier who has had "contact".
    Our police "service" are on some nasty politically induced power trip and are a real danger to us all.

  9. pcf: Agreed. It is scary enough that they should be susceptible to the degree of political direction and control that they so clearly are these days.

    But when individuals can also behave like robo-cop at the bidding of their masters without, it appears, being required to exercise any judgement in the matter at all, then we really have arrived at an Orwellian 'Animal Farm'.

  10. G Eagle Esq7:15 pm

    Dear Sabre Tache

    It is dismaying that the Police are so often unaccountable for their actions

    I do not understand how no individual officer has been prosecuted - at the very least, those who fired the bullets should have explained to an English Jury why they should not be found guilty of Murder or Manslaughter, for shooting an unarmed man who appears to have been held securely by another Police officer

    If I were a Londoner (instead of living in rural Derbyshire - "the best of Counties" per Jane Austen) I certainly would not want the Policemen who fired the bullets to be carrying round loaded weapons after this shambles

    The Police were efficient only in 2 areas :

    1. the lies they spun forthwith without any delay or evident thought

    eg he jumped over a ticket barrier when challenged ... only he didn't

    eg he was wearing loose clothing that could havd concealed a bomb ... only he wasn't

    2. the swift promotion at the earliest opportunity of the Policewomen who was in charge of this shambles

    I remain your obedient servant

    G E

  11. I take your point. It dioes seem a but tough on the people who knew the victim too. To know they will be on work.