Main take-home from the weekend’s revelations: if you give the police carte blanche to shoot people on suspicion, then innocent people will get shot by the police.
This isn’t the fault of individual policemen, relatively few of whom are particularly bad people; it’s just what happens when you allow inexperienced individuals to make life-or-death judgements on the basis of not-a-lot. At war against another army, you can safely make everyone adopt a ‘shoot the enemy unless they’re clearly surrendering’ rule. Peacekeeping in a warzone is more judgement-based, which is why US troops keep wiping out innocent Iraqi families.
Oddly enough, I don’t want the police in the city where I live to behave like US soldiers in Iraq. I want the police to be told that they bloody well shouldn’t shoot anyone unless they have the go-ahead from senior officers, and I don’t want this to be forthcoming unless the whole operation is backed by real intelligence (by which I don’t mean ‘someone we think is dodgy lives in the same block of flats, and the chap you’re targeting looks like he might be an Arab’). Any policeman who’s thinking of shooting people should be fully uniformed, and should make his police status known before he starts brandishing firearms.
And anyone who automatically assumes the authorities are Acting In Good Faith and/or Doing The Right Thing should probably question their judgement right about now.
Relatedly, Tim Hames is a good man, and Ken Livingstone is disappointingly not. And trying to shoot the poor bugger who was driving the train seems, err, mentalist. Oh, and Lord Stevens is still a cunt.