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Blair to face charges over Stockwell?

Sir Ian Blair

Yesterday’s Observer (no surprises that it was them) splashed on the story that Sir Ian Blair could face charges over the killing of Jean Charles de Menezes on 21st July last year, based on the fact that the Crown Prosecution Service’s analysis of events focuses on Sir Ian and two other senior commanders. This is, of course, in addition to the ongoing inquiry as to whether Sir Ian misled the public in the aftermath of the attacks of 7th July. And, one year on, it would appear that suspects are still being shot without warning.

Now, I’m fairly certain that Sir Ian has acted wrongly at various points in the aftermath of 7th July, but I don’t think he’s done so knowingly, and I don’t think he’s deliberately set out to cause harm and mislead the public. I don’t think that charging him with any kind of offence is going to serve a great purpose here. He should have resigned, as he’s at least nominally in charge of officers who killed an innocent man, but I don’t think that can be blamed on him per sé.

It would appear to my uniformed self that what’s going on here is that too many police are being handed guns with too little training and too much emotion. The government is all too keen to get armed police on the streets so that it looks like they’re doing something in the face of an apparent terrorist threat, and this results in armed officers needing to be trained quickly, churning out like sausages in a sausage factory. But I wouldn’t want to be confronted by a sausage with a gun: If police are going to carry guns, they should be very highly trained, not just in how to use them, but more importantly in how and when not to use them.

It seems to me that such training either isn’t happening, or isn’t sufficient. Charging Sir Ian Blair with health and safety offences for failing in his duty of care won’t change that. A change in police and government culture – rather more difficult to achieve – just might.

This post was filed under: News and Comment.

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