“Sir” John Stevens, head of the Metropolitan Police, was on the news last night trying to justify the protestations of certain members of the police force with regard to the Harry Stanley case, in which two armed police officers shot and killed an unarmed man because they suspected that the chair leg he was carrying in a bag was actually a gun.
Initially, he made the quite reasonable point that the regulations regarding these matters must be made clearer, to avoid future tragedies. But he went on to say that the system must be one in which the police themselves “have confidence” – the idea that the regulation of police powers should be subjectively approved by the police themselves is at worst rather contradictory, and at best very dangerous.
Mr Stevens’ remarks then degenerated into farce, as he proceeded to demand extra “legal protection” for the police by citing “the post-9/11 environment”, in a pathetic (but no doubt effective) attempt at emotional blackmail. So this is where we’re at now – if you’re against unarmed men being shot and killed with impunity by unaccountable policemen, you’re pro-terrorist.
Talk of “protecting” armed police carries the implicit notion that they are “endangered” in some way by any legal provision which imposes an them a duty of care to reflect the social responsibility they have been given. It’s the same for doctors and other public service workers, yet certain people in the police force seem to think that their particular status gives them a de facto exemption from accountability to the society without whose mandate they are little more than legitimised thugs.