View Full Version : Brit cop shot dead: Bring back death penalty says ex Met cheif

11-20-2005, 07:41 AM
Train more of us to use guns, say police
The Observer (http://observer.guardian.co.uk/uk_news/story/0,6903,1646782,00.html)

Thousands more police must be trained in the use of firearms, according to rank-and-file officers who joined politicians and police chiefs last night to urge immediate action to tackle the spread of Britain's gun culture.The call came as six people were arrested yesterday in connection with the shooting dead of unarmed PC Sharon Beshenivsky in Bradford, West Yorkshire, on Friday.

Beshenivsky, 38, mother to three children and stepmother to two more, was shot dead by armed robbers in the city centre. Her colleague, PC Teresa Milburn, suffered gunshot injuries to her shoulder.

As tributes to the dead officers poured in, her Chief Constable, Colin Cramphorn, described Beshenivsky as an 'enthusiastic, mature and very positive colleague' with an infectious laugh.

Her death has caused widespread demands for action, including calls last night from the Liberal Democrats for ex-soldiers to be hired as police firearms officers. Forces have struggled to find volunteers for training because of the stress.

The former head of the Metropolitan Police, Lord Stevens, has called for the death penalty to be reinstated for police killers. Writing in the News of the World today, Stevens says: 'I genuinely never thought I'd say this, but I am now convinced that the monster who executed this young woman in cold blood should, in turn, be killed as punishment for his crime.'

The Police Federation, which represents the 130,000 rank-and-file officers, last night said it would lobby for more police to be given firearms training.

'We do not know whether if these officers had been armed a different result would have come about,' said Jan Berry, president of the federation.

'That said, gun crime is going up and the number of authorised firearms officers has gone down. Whereas the Metropolitan Police has around 10 per cent of its force authorised to use firearms, on average the national figure is less than 5 per cent.

'There's a recognition we need to have greater resilience. The people who are authorised firearms officers are having more and more demands placed on them. I would like to see us moving towards the 10 per cent rather than sticking with the 5 per cent figure.' That would mean having about 14,000 trained firearms officers nationally.

A decade ago, there were 6,837 trained firearms officers in England and Wales but by last year that had fallen to 6,096. Yet official statistics show gun crime has risen for the last five years: firearms incidents increased by six per cent in the past year alone.

At its next annual conference, the federation intends to debate calls for more police to be given firearms training, the first time it will do so for 13 years.

With gun crime spreading to such cities as Bradford, where shootings have been rare until now, senior police chiefs are calling for some forces to have more specialist firearms officers.

'It's got to be judged by the local chief constable saying, "We need more firearm support." It's not easy to have a one size fits all. I could take you to some forces where there are too many and to some where there are not enough,' said Chris Fox, president of the Association of Chief Police Officers.

Mark Oaten, the Liberal Democrat home affairs spokesman, warned there must be enough firearms officers to ensure armed cover for all call-outs involving guns. 'I would support a general review of the number of officers who carry arms, and if that means a recruitment drive from the armed forces that would be welcome,' Oaten said.

Sir Ian Blair, the Metropolitan Police commissioner, suggested hiring ex-soldiers following the London tube bombings on 7 July.

Yesterday Home Office minister Hazel Blears paid tribute to the murdered officer. 'Clearly what happened in Bradford with the murder of a police officer and the injury to another police officer is an absolute tragedy, particularly for the families concerned.'

Yesterday evening a man was arrested in connection with the murder. Four men and a woman were detained in London earlier in the day.

A West Yorkshire Police spokeswoman said: 'All five remain in custody and the Metropolitan force are continuing to assist West Yorkshire Police in their ongoing investigation.'

In 2003-04 there were 11,630 assaults on police in England and Wales, equivalent to a policeman or woman attacked every 45 minutes.