Two police officers dead: is it time to arm the British police?
Murder of two female officers in Manchester prompts Tebbit to call for death penalty
THE MURDER of two female police officers in Manchester yesterday has sparked calls for British police to be armed while the veteran Tory minister Lord (Norman) Tebbit believes the death penalty should be brought back for the murder of police officers.
Pc Nicola Hughes, 23, and Pc Fiona Bone, 32, were killed yesterday after being lured into an ambush when they were called to investigate a hoax burglary. According to police, the officers were approaching a property in the Hattersley Estate in Mottram when a man reportedly fired 13 gunshots at the pair before hurling a grenade.
Shortly after the incident, Dale Cregan, 29, who had been the subject of a manhunt following the murders of a father and his son, walked into Hyde police station two miles away and was detained by police.
The women’s deaths have led to calls for police officers in Britain to be armed. Darren Rathband, the brother of Pc David Rathband, who was shot in the face and blinded by Raoul Moat in 2010 and who hanged himself earlier this year, said: "It beggars belief. How many officers need to die before the powers realise that it is the 21st century and you cannot fight crime with an outdated piece of plastic and a bit of spray?"
Michael Winner, film director and founder of the Police Memorial Trust, said: "I cannot understand it when in all other countries police are armed to fight what is clearly a different situation today. It is ridiculous."
But Sir Peter Fahy, chief constable of Greater Manchester Police, said his force believed "passionately" that police should remain unarmed, despite the tragedy, reports The Daily Telegraph. Others pointed to a 2006 a Police Federation survey of 47,000 officers, which found that 82 per cent opposed it.
Graham Stringer, an MP in Manchester, said: "Giving police officers guns is not the answer. That would put them more at risk. I think the policy is right now."
Lord Norman Tebbit has a more extreme solution. The Conservative peer writes in the The Daily Telegraph today that the death penalty should be brought back for police killers.
Arming officers would widen the gap between the police and public, he says, but the "deterrent effect of the shadow of the gallows" should be reconsidered.
"The hard fact is, as violent criminals know perfectly well, a credible threat that a man will lose his life unless he complies with a demand usually results in obedience," he writes.
But there has been little support for Tebbit's idea, with many taking to Twitter to describe it as a "knee-jerk reaction".
Bernard McEldowney, a retired police inspector, said "There are plenty of police officers murdered in the US and other countries where they do have the death penalty!"
David Smith, a professor at York University, tweeted: "Yesterday's murder of police officers is awful. It is not an excuse to re-introduce state-sponsored killing."