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Shoot the arsonists: UK cops to use live rounds during riots?

Published time: December 21, 2011 11:55
Edited time: December 21, 2011 16:51
Fire crews try to extinguish a burning 140 year old furniture store in Croydon, London (AFP Photo / Carl de Souza)

Fire crews try to extinguish a burning 140 year old furniture store in Croydon, London (AFP Photo / Carl de Souza)

Britain wants its police to be allowed to shoot live rounds at arsonists - that’s the conclusion of a recent report. So next time rioters take to the streets, they might just get a real bullet in the head rather than a rubber one.

­This year’s riots in the UK vividly exposed the “soft touch” of Britain’s police force, which wasted time and resources on lenient and ineffective measures to contain arsonists and looters. The resulting sense of impunity drove the mobs on to torch businesses.

Families living in apartments above the blazing shops were forced to jump out of windows to escape the flames – an experience neither forgotten nor forgiven.
People who lost their homes and livelihoods in the arson attacks also crave justice.
Enough is enough, and it now looks as if the long period of putting liberal values ahead of civil order is coming to an end in the United Kingdom.

Water cannon are too expensive and rubber bullets are relatively ineffective. So it looks like firearms and live ammunition could become a last and life-saving resort in dealing with a violent mob with no respect for the value of human life.

The review by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary calls for clear rules of engagement in extreme situations of public violence.

It says police should be better prepared to face mass disorder and violence. And it is not simply a matter of equipment or numbers of police officers. For example, water cannon have proven ineffective when used in pairs and in protracted operations because when used extensively they dry up in a matter of minutes. Plus, being 1 million pounds apiece, they have to be well-guarded by police.

Also it was calculated that police must outnumber rioters by a ratio of one to four or five in order to move swiftly and make arrests to curb violence.

The review states that it would be hard to establish criteria to justify the use of the military against rioting citizens. But the review suggests the possibility of the army replacing police in logistical positions “to free police officers for public order duties."

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