Thursday, December 15, 2005

Metropolitan Police terrorism questionnaire

Can't remember how I found this poll asking for views on how the Met should respond in the wake of July's terrorist attacks, but it closes on Monday, so not much time to get your views across - hence another - this time lengthy - break from not blogging (I'm not doing very well, am I? No wonder I haven't stopped smoking yet...)

This should technically just be for Londoners, as I am, although nowhere does it seem to say this. I'll leave it up to you provincials/non-Brits to decide for yourselves whether you should take part as well. Main questions in bold, my answers under.

Note to people who may want to flame me for not wanting to kill people in response to people wanting to kill people: I don't care.

A. The terrorist threat?
Question 1


Sir Ian Blair, Commissioner, Metropolitan Police Service, The Dimbleby Lecture 2005, BBC, 16 November 2005:

‘The citizens of Britain now have to articulate what kind of police service they want [including its counter-terrorist capability]… You all now – we all now – need to make some decisions’.
Have you got enough information to make such decisions about what kind of police service you want to tackle terrorism?

Yes - Not one that infringes on civil liberties, and not one that shoots innocent Brazilians in the head. One, in fact, that does everything it can to take any terrorist suspects alive, then question them without resorting to torture and without locking them up without trial.

Question 2

Charles Kennedy MP, Leader of the Liberal Democrats, 15 July 2005:
‘The speed and efficiency with which this [7 July bombings] was so calmly and professionally handled by the Metropolitan Police and the security services, the transport and emergency personnel, can give us all confidence’.
If London came under terrorist attack again, would you be confident in the police emergency response?

Yes - But not their ability to prevent it, please note. Because it's impossible to prevent terrorism - you can only lessen its impact and effectiveness.

B. How reasonable is lethal force?
Question 3


Baroness Scotland QC, Home Office Minister of State, House of Lords, 3 November 2005:
‘Police operations involving the use of firearms will be intended, in appropriate circumstances, to bring an end to an imminent threat to life or of serious injury… Tactics will be aimed at ensuring this is done quickly, and with certainty. Where a firearm is discharged, death may result but that isn’t the objective’.
Do you support the national police policy to shoot to kill suspected suicide bombers?

No - But only because it's blatantly obvious that our armed police units do not have anwhere near enough training adequately to make a decision as to when lethal force is necessary. Not to mention that if we're up against suicide bombers, with such a policy in place they're likely to use devices that will detonate if their carrier is killed, making any such summary execution bloody dangerous. Sometimes it may be necessary; most of the time it isn't.

Question 4

Sir Ian Blair, Commissioner, Metropolitan Police Service, The Dimbleby Lecture 2005, BBC, 16 November 2005:
‘You want us largely unarmed and that jewel remains. The British Isles retain the only largely unarmed police services in the world except for New Zealand… 90% of the Met remains unarmed - I want to keep it that way. I imagine you do too…’
Would you feel safer with more armed police on the streets?

No - Armed police are not reassuring in the slightest - in fact quite the opposite - and are also likely to encourage criminals/terrorists to carry guns more frequently than they currently do, potentially leading to more unnecessary loss of life.

C. Divided we stand?
Question 5


Brian Paddick, Deputy Assistant Commissioner, Metropolitan Police Service, Press Conference, 7 July 2005:
‘Terrorism and Islam do not go together’.
Tarique Ghaffur, Assistant Commissioner, Metropolitan Police Service, Financial Times, 10 August 2005:
‘Muslim communities were unable to identify the tipping point between right and wrong, where hate becomes a criminal offence’.
Do the police understand the communities they serve?

Although those two quotes show sensitivity, neither of the two people quoted are representative of the average Met Police officer on the street, both being from from minority groups which are sorely under-represented on the force. Although there are certainly far more understanding and tolerant officers now than ever before, old prejudices remain - both in terms of the police's attitude and that of the general public. No one thinks Dixon of Dock Green any more - we all think The Sweeny at best and The Shield at worst.

Question 6

Sir Ian Blair, Commissioner, Metropolitan Police Service, MPA Full Authority Meeting, 30 June 2005:
‘Diversity is not just a moral value, it is an operational requirement’.
Do you want to know whom the police stop-and-search under the Terrorism Act, and where?

No - To release such information freely could jeopardise counter-terrorism operations.

Question 7

1 in every 9 people in London is Muslim. The Metropolitan Police Service has over 30,000 officers. 300 of these officers are Muslim.

If the police try to recruit officers from diverse communities, could those communities do more to help?

Yes - But it needs to start with the police - even though they're in an impossible position at the moment. Until the perception of the police as a whole starts to change, it is unlikely that many people from minority backgrounds are going to be too keen to sign up. Co-ordination with minority groups would obviously be an important part of this, but even though I've mostly got a great amount of respect for the police, it's easy to see how they could be seen as the typical wife-beater asking his spouse "trust me - I've changed, honest..."

D. Liberty versus security?
Question 8


David Cracknell, Sunday Times, 31 July 2005:
‘A YouGov poll in the aftermath of the July 7th bombings found that seven out of ten people believed it was sometimes necessary to restrict civil liberties in order to combat terrorism’.
Do you?

No - Restrict civil liberties, the terrorists have won. Never surrender. Simple.

E. Scaremongers and sensationalists?
Question 9


Daily Express, front page headline, 27 July 2005:
‘Bombers are all spongeing asylum seekers’.
Has the media fuelled community tensions?

Yes - Blatantly.

Question 10

The Guardian, headline, 8 July 2005:
‘Religion has no part in this’.
The Sun, front page headline, 30 July 2005:
‘Got the bastards’.
On balance, has the media coverage of this summer’s events been accurate?

No - Then again, neither the government nor the police have been accurate either - the media hasn't had much to work with...

3 Comments:

Blogger Phil said...

Do you want to know whom the police stop-and-search under the Terrorism Act, and where?

No - To release such information freely could jeopardise counter-terrorism operations.


Eh? They're not talking about releasing individual names and addresses here - just publishing the same kind of information about stops under TACT that they do already about stops and searches under the standard PACE provisions. If anything we need more information about TACT stops than the PACE variety, not less.

12/16/2005 08:56:00 am  
Blogger Nosemonkey said...

Sort of - it's more the "where" that I don't think should be released. Could give an indication of where the police are concentrating their resources.

Then again, I can't for the life of me see how stop and search is compatible with shoot to kill anyway...

12/16/2005 10:27:00 am  
Blogger MatGB said...

Have filled it in, and posted my reasons, but essentially I live in a country governed from a capitol I visit regularly. Thanks for the link anyway.

12/17/2005 02:00:00 am  

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