The Bower & Collier Family History

Research by Colin Bower

Discussion Group

Debate 12D Should the Police be given immunity from prosecution when responding to "terrorist" attacks? (originally planned for April)

Please vote Yes, No or Undecided on each and let me have a sentence or two on why you have voted the way you have.

Please let me have your answers by Friday following which I will add them to my website and circulate summaries of your feedback next Wednesday.




1-2. No immunity as everything in life has to be accountable.

3. No. Police should always be answerable for their actions otherwise there is a risk of losing public support.

4. No with regret because they do a dangerous job.

When the police are called to an incident, they do not know what they are walking into.

It may not be a terrorst attack.

The important thing is that armed anti-Terrorist police, responding to a call, have the necessary training and that the incident is managed/commanded as best it can.

If there is a shooting/fatality, well-tried procedures are followed and the incident is investigated.

The police must be allowed some leeway, as the officers on the spot with possible danger to their lives,  but they must be expected to follow well-thought guidelines to protect themselves and the public

5. No, Police should not be given immunity from prosecution when attending terrorist attacks, and

should be held accountable for their actions whilst on-route and in-attendance at the scene.

However, they should not be treated the same as members of the public whilst on duty and dealing with terrorists.

The enormous stress they are under is a major mitigating circumstance in the event of any alleged inappropriate behaviour, and

they should never be suspended from duty pending enquiries, effectively ‘guilty until proven innocent’, as they are too valuable to be taken from the front line.

6. Yes, Police should be given immunity from prosecution when attending terrorist attacks.

7. Yes. In a terrorist situation police have to react very quickly and

should be free from prosecution or they will hold back and more problems will occur

8. No absolutely not.

The decision to fire is a subjective, not an objective one, therefore needs to be subject to scrutiny and accountable.

The police and the army operate under, not above, the rule of law as the legally constituted forces of the state.

Consequently they are permitted to carry arms and authorised to use lethal force.

However that does not bestow carte blanche as they are subject to rules of engagement and must adhere to a code of conduct.

While in most instances they may have acted correctly it is those exceptions that reinforce the necessity for safeguards.

In 2005, a young Brazilian man on the London underground, without any warning from undercover police, was restrained in a bear hug and a gun pointed to his head and he was shot seven times. It transpired that he was completely innocent of any involvement in the previous day;s bombings.

In 2011 Mark Duggan,,a known criminal was cornered in a taxi by police. He as ordered out of the taxi and when he emerged he tried to run away, therefore not posing any threat. He only got 2-3 yards before being gunned down. The police stated they were convinced he was armed but this proved not to be the case.

In both instances no one was prosecuted and the police opposed an investigation by the the Independent Police Complaints Committee.

9. YES, definitely.

It must be a truly awful situation and we owe it to this brave front-line to support their actions to keep us safe.

They need to think on their feet and react with cool heads. But I’m sure survival instinct is a powerful driver when in a totally unpredictable/unknown terrorist attack.....

10. Not immunity but not automatically prosecuted. That should only be if there is real evidence.

11. Undecided, depends on circumstances.

Review of Week

This was a question that we were going to discuss in April.

I think that we covered the subject well in an online debate but it would have been interesting to see if the vote would have been different if we had an exchange of views face to face.

There were a few people who thought that the police should have immunity but the majority thought they should not.

Colin Bower
29 May 2020

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