In a previous post I talked about the shooting of Jean Charles de Menezes at Stockwell Tube Station last August, and in particular how this restrained man had to be shot 7 times in the head, because police believed that he was a suicide bomber. It now seems that the 'shoot-to-kill' policy put in place after last July's terrorist bombings was flawed.
The policy did not take account of suspected people acting innocently!
Chief Constable Barbara Wilding, now Chief Constable for South Wales, had been charged with organising the police response as a result of the London bombings. She told BBC's Panorama program that the policy, - called Operation Kratos, - was designed to respond to 2 restricted scenarios:
- A spontaneous event in which a potential suicide bomber was identified, for instance by a member of the public, and there was no prior intelligence.
- Potential attacks on specific targets where there was detailed intelligence and police had time to put tactics in place.
Mr Menezes was killed because he lived in a block of flats under police surveillance, and they believed he was a bomber on the way to carry out an attack.
Chief Constable Wilding told Panorama: "The planning that we did, did we look at a mobile intelligence gathering operation going live? The answer is no we didn't."
The Met's Assistant Chief Commissioner Steve House said Operation Kratos would be kept in place and constantly refined.
"We will seek any improvements that we can, both in the equipment and in the tactics, to make sure that it is the most effective deterrent that we have to suspected suicide terrorists coming to London again," he said.
The program also uncovered the fact that police radios didn't work deep inside the station, so effective communication with support officers was not available; and that British police are not required to confirm the existence of a "suicide jacket" before they open fire.
This latter contrasts with the Israeli rules of engagement, where officers need to be sure that the person was carrying a suicide belt or bomb before taking action.
Jean Charles de Menezes was in the wrong place, but if only the policy had been more carefully thought out, and the police responded with caution and intelligence, then he would still be alive today. I have yet to see an explanation for why he had to be shot 7 times!