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Monday, November 21, 2005

Arming the police

This morning's Western Mail reports the views of the South Wales Police Federation Secretary and a former Police Superintentent that armed police are inevitable. Regardless of my outrage at the killing of PC Sharon Beshenivsky, I certainly hope not and I suspect that goes for the vast majority of the British public as well.

Whereas, it is right that there are armed response teams to back up conventional police officers in the event of firearms being used, the routine arming of all Police Officers will actually provoke an escalation of gun crime and more Police deaths from shootings. In particular the startling statistic from the USA is how many Police Officers are shot by their own guns.

The issue of the death penalty is not so clear cut and I am not particularly happy about the way my comments have been interpreted in the article. When asked whether the death penalty should be reintroduced for those who murdered police officers I actually said that I cannot see how we can distinguish between different types of murder. Whether it is a child, a police officer or a 30 year old male, the offence is equally as grave and repugnant and a common code should apply to how it is dealt with by the courts.

The phrase "I cannot see the need to distinguish between different types of murder" was mistranscribed by the journalist. Clearly, there is always a need to look at the circumstances of a crime. Ultimately, though I am opposed to the death penalty because it is both barbaric and ineffective. A study of countries who operate the ultimate sanction reveals that the vast majority have high levels of violent crime and that most of them are experiencing an increase in murders. It is not the death penalty that is the deterrent it is getting caught and once you have caught a violent criminal there are many other ways to protect society from him or her than killing them.
"I cannot see the need to distinguish between different types of murder"

So the repeatedly battered woman who one day stabs her drunken, abusive, partner with a kitchen knife is to be treated no differently in the eyes of the law to Harold Shipman?

What about the police officer who shoots in self defence only to discover that the perpetrator was carrying a toy firearm? Is their action to be regarded in law as no different to that of the swine who shot the WPC?

I think you need to reconsider your soundbite Peter ...
If you re-read the post David you will see that the soundbite you quote is one that I stated was mistranscribed.

Murder is murder unless it is manslaughter or self-defence as with the Police Officer you use as an example. That is why we have different categories of unlawful killing so as to make that distinction.

My remarks refer solely to pre-meditated murder, which under a different regime would attract the penalty of death.
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