Tuesday, 17 June 2008

The dangers the police face

I had an email complaining about my last post, suggesting I was trying to score cheap political points from a policeman's death. The writer didn't understand what it was in Ms Smith's remarks I took exception to, so perhaps I'd better comment further.

The police face many dangers on our behalf and I readily acknowledge that. But it is not a danger that they face every day, nor should they ever have to face, that they are unwittingly killed by a colleague in a training exercise with a weapon that has been adjudged safe for use by the Home Office. Maybe Ms Smith is now approving weapons whose safety level is marginal as part of her campaign of increased toughness in going after those she considers villains, but more likely she's just too stupid to realise that the blame for this tragedy lies squarely at her own door.

There were two victims in this incident, and one has to feel for the officer who fired the shot. Police officers are entitled to rely implicitly on the Home Office in its judgement on issues of safety in such matters. On this occasion that trust was shown to have been seriously abused not by a criminal but by lax complacency in a Government Department overseen by Ms Smith. Since our Home Secretary is a lady who has made clear for some time that she doesn't even consider the police worthy of a reasonable pay rise, her sanctimonious remarks seem all the more contemptible.


Political Umpire said...

I don't know enough about the incident to comment - was it human error by the shooter, or was it problems with the equipment or both, or something else?

Sadly I doubt Ms Smith took the time to find out either, but unlike me didn't keep her mouth shut.

Stephen said...

In truth, I doubt if any of us can be certain what happened while the matter is in the hands of the IPCC (so expect to find out in about five years time). The general tone of the press reports suggests that the policeman concerned was (for training purposes) posing as a villain; he was certainly shot by a weapon designed to incapacitate rather than kill, and approved as such by the Home Office.

It is a surprise that Ms Smith didn't tell the Commons that the incident demonstrated the dangers that criminals face every day given that appropriate sensitivity and simple good taste seem far beyond her remit.