In his latest blog for Infologue.com, Chris Cully, Managing Director for Dilitas Ltd, discusses the events in Paris last year and firearms. Chris writes: “As the New Year begins, the shadow of the horrendous events in Paris looms large across us.
“In response to this, the Commissioner, Sir Bernard Hogan-‐Howe has announced that an extra 600 police officers will be trained as firearms officers in order to counter the ever-‐present threat of a terrorist attack taking place in London. As reported in the press, this will bring the total number of authorised firearms officers to 2,800.
“As this extra recruitment and training begins, the firearms department is extending its training to what now appears to be the modus operandi of terrorists; a fast moving group of well-‐armed men, shooting indiscriminately and entering buildings containing large number of people, for the purpose of mass murder.
“This represents an enormous sea change in the tactics of the firearms unit, which was always to contain and control armed situations and, wherever possible, bring them to a safe and controlled conclusion.
“The events of the last 12-‐months in France now confirm that those tactics will no longer apply and, therefore, they must change.
“Sir Bernard recently commented that, “the capital was facing a threat that was “likely to be a spontaneous attack that requires a fast response. My firearms officers are our heroes -‐ we expect them to run towards a terrorist attack and take action to confront and stop that threat.”
“There can be no doubt that the men and women of the firearms units are indeed the last line of defence. They will be expected to engage with individuals armed with larger calibre weapons who are wearing suicide vests to ensure their rapid departure to the promised land, along with any innocents who happen to be too close.
“However, as we stand on the edge of an event which most of us believe, will, at some point happen, standing on the side lines are the men and women of the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC).
“For those of you who are unfamiliar with the IPCC, their values are listed on their web site (www.ipcc.gov.uk) as:
“We are committed to our values, which underpin all our work.
“These values influence our plans, service delivery and engagement with complainants, the police and all our stakeholders. They are also reflected in the recruitment of our staff and commissioners and in the way the organisation is run.
“Our values are:
• Justice and respect for human rights
• Valuing diversity
“Now, whilst the IPCC values are what is considered desirable and acceptable in our modern world, and drip resonantly with the plinky plonk of political correctness, the IPCC are first to the front, after the event, to decide who has done what, especially in firearms matters.
“It has now become a common practice that when firearms officers fire at and/or kill suspects who are armed, or who are engaged in serious crime with weapons, they are overseen by the IPCC.
“This has resulted in many firearms officers becoming very uneasy and concerned at they way they are treated when they have to fire their weapons. This concern was further highlighted by the suspension and subsequent arrest of the officer named as W80, who shot and killed Jermaine Baker, who was in the process of assisting with an attempt to break out a prisoner in transit at Wood Green, in December 2015.
“Police officers expect their actions to be investigated and held to account. However, they do not expect to be nor should they be treated, with more contempt and less respect than the violent criminals with whom they have to engage on a daily basis.
“The event in Wood Green prompted the Commissioner to make the comment, “My firearms officers are our heroes -‐ we expect them to run towards a terrorist attack and take action to confront and stop that threat.”
“If this is what the Commissioner really believes, then it is his absolute duty to support his firearms officers to the hilt. Unfortunately, the attitude within the upper echelons of the Met, which has existed from the first Brixton riots, is that it is politically better to throw the troops to the wolves than stand up and resolutely defend the role of the police and fully support those officers who apply the rule of law, day by day, on the streets.
“Supporting his firearms officers should extend to ensure IPCC apply their remit in a more controlled manner, and those within their ranks, some of who are ex-‐ police officers, are not given an almost free rein to have an SO19 officers scalp, hanging from their coup stick. A concern which many SO19 officers now have.
“Of course, the logical and most effective way to apply a level playing field to IPCC investigations, would be to ask for IPCC staff to volunteer to become part of the 600 officers to be firearms trained.
“In that way, if and when an attack comes, the IPCC volunteers could support the SO19 officers in “running towards a terrorist attack and take action to confront and stop that threat,” as the Commissioner expects of his men.
“Naturally, we wont be holding our breath on this one”.
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