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Shoot to kill

Shoot to kill: Police accountability, firearms and fatal force

Maurice Punch
Copyright Date: 2011
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  • Book Info
    Shoot to kill
    Book Description:

    The shooting of Jean Charles de Menezes at Stockwell underground station in 2005 raised acute issues about operational practice, legitimacy, accountability and policy making regarding police use of fatal force. It dramatically exposed a policy, referred to popularly as 'shoot to kill', which came not from Parliament but from the non-statutory ACPO (Association of Chief Police Officers). This vital and timely book unravels these often misunderstood matters with a fresh look at firearms practice and policy in a traditionally 'unarmed' police service. It is essential reading for all those interested in the state's role in defining coercion and in policing a democracy.

    eISBN: 978-1-84742-316-0
    Subjects: Sociology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Foreword and acknowledgements
    (pp. vii-xi)

    This book arose directly from the resurfacing of the term ‘shoot to kill’ following the killing of an innocent man by the Metropolitan Police Service – colloquially referred to as the ‘Met’ – in London in 2005 at Stockwell Underground Station. My academic curiosity was aroused by that extraordinary event and the implications for British policing, but already before that affair I was interested in issues of operational and institutional accountability in policing. Recently, moreover, I began to pay attention to these crucial subjects in relation to the police use of firearms. This was for two main reasons.

    First, I...

  4. Abbreviations/acronyms
    (pp. xii-xiv)
  5. Timeline
    (pp. xv-xviii)
  6. Police ranks
    (pp. xix-xx)
  7. ONE Police, state, fatal force and accountability
    (pp. 1-24)

    Most police officers in Britain will never hold a firearm, face a gun or fire one. And the majority have consistently shown that they have no desire to carry arms routinely. Furthermore, in the vast majority of incidents where firearms are deployed in Britain no shots are fired.¹ A highly experienced SO19 officer involved in the Stockwell shooting had taken part in some 2,000 firearms operations yet had never before fired at a person. One chief officer had granted around 4,000 authorisations for firearms use, but none had resulted in bullets being fired. And on the very few occasions when...

  8. TWO Firearms in British and in Dutch policing
    (pp. 25-68)

    Police violence, and especially police use of firearms, touches a highly sensitive nerve in Britain. This is because, from the commencement of modern policing in 1829 with the establishment of the Metropolitan Police (Met) by Sir Robert Peel, the British Police has operated on a policy and exuded an image that all its officers were unarmed (Ascoli, 1979). Furthermore, Peel’s model for policing was that police officers would not carry firearms;¹ would not be given the military-style training typical ofGendarmerie-style forces on the Continent; would be restrained in the use of force; and would be directly answerable to the...

  9. THREE Police use of firearms: Deadly guns, scenarios and ‘mistakes’
    (pp. 69-124)

    Throughout this work I wish to convey that while there is a truism – ‘it’s not guns that are a problem but people’ – it is clearly the case from much data thatguns are a problem. They will always be a problem because they are intrinsically deadly instruments that become a social problem in relation to the widespread production and commercial promotion of weapons by the gun industry leading to public possession of guns for sport, hunting and self-defence; by the weaknesses in the legislation, licensing and regulation of firearms; and by the ease of access to legal or...

  10. FOUR Rights, command and accountability
    (pp. 125-148)

    The material presented earlier indicates that the British Police during the last four decades – say from that crucial turning-point of 1966 (Waddington, 1991) – engaged in a continuous learning process regarding police use of firearms and the allied issues of rights, command, accountability, investigations and oversight. In wrestling with these complex and intertwined matters, police were driven by a number of factors that have culminated generally in a more professional and sophisticated approach.

    The broader reform process in policing has not always been even, smooth and progressive, but rather has often been tardy, painful, contested and even at times...

  11. FIVE The military paradigm: Stockwell, Kratos and the aftermath
    (pp. 149-182)

    The long-standing, traditional position of civil policing in Britain is based on restraint, avoidance of violence, the application of the minimum force considered necessary and proportionate and, if possible, the preservation of life. This ‘restraint paradigm’ contrasts strongly with typical military-style operations that function under an alternative ‘military paradigm’. A central issue here is the extent to which British policing has shifted from the restraint paradigm and moved closer to the military paradigm. This is crucial to assessing the Stockwell shooting in London in 2005, the ‘Kratos’ policy underpinning it and the long-term implications of that incident for policing.


  12. SIX Conclusion: From Bobby to Robocop?
    (pp. 183-208)

    This book has focused on policy and practice with regard to police use of firearms. It delved into these matters principally with regard to the UK, but also looked at the US and the Netherlands. The police use of firearms is a perennial and central topic in a democratic society because it involves representatives of the state being granted the power and authority to deprive people of their lives. This pivotal matter in policing helps to open up the consideration of a wider raft of issues around law, policy, legitimacy, governance, accountability and the demarcation line between police and government....

  13. APPENDIX: Types of firearms
    (pp. 209-212)
  14. References
    (pp. 213-230)
  15. Index
    (pp. 231-244)
  16. Back Matter
    (pp. 245-245)