Wednesday, 28 March 2018

Channel 5 Armed Police

I will not go to length again about this pathetic programme, but I just wanted to mention the most outrageous statement in this weeks episode. This was the shooting of Mark Saunders, a barrister.

Needless to say he was shot by armed police. He had been firing a shotgun from his flat and clearly was a danger. It was considered that he was having some kind of breakdown and had been drinking heavily. So you might not be too sympathetic and the programme ended the piece about him by saying that 'apart from his drinking their was no explanation for his behaviour'.

The edited piece showing Mark just before he was shot was of him leaning quite far out of the window, holding the shotgun (though not pointing it). He was shot ten times.

What they didn't say about what actually happened was that, when he was shot by seven firearms officers (five managed to hit him), he was leaning out and saying "I can't hear you", referring to someone shouting at him. The reason he couldn't hear was because the police helicopter was hovering low above the scene. The police were also trying to phone him at the time.

He wasn't presenting a threat, he was presenting the best target the police had had since the 'siege' started. If you are a criminal on a roof, the police will close all the surrounding streets and wait as long as necessary for the man to come down, not doing anything that might cause him to fall. If you are a barrister doing something completely out of character, then a quick end so everyone can go home is preferable.

The programme keeps talking about how our well-trained armed police are the best in the world. So how did two of the firing squad of seven officers miss a sitting target?

Reading the report into the Manchester Arena suicide bomber, it is clear that the mindset of senior officers is completely at odds with dealing with reality and the solution seems to be the odd tweak, here and there and quite a bit more paperwork and protocols (whilst saying it was an important aspect of the response that many strayed from the 'rules' to save lives).

Monday, 26 March 2018

Is Labour Anti-Semitic?

There are numerous, almost unending examples of anti-Semitism at the forefront of the Labour political machine, since Corbyn became leader. Corbyn either doesn't apologise, denies the truth or issues a non-apology apology (as now). So, yes Labour is deeply rooted in anti-Semitism.

Naturally, with such a high profile story affecting the leader of the Opposition, the BBC led with it at lunchtime news. They reported what people were saying and then went to interview their own political correspondent, as is the vogue these days. He skirted around the subject and didn't offer any analysis either, like why people are making the accusation, what the substance was.

In other words, the BBC admit it is an important story, but do their best to just give an anodyne report allowing lefties and those who don't generally pay attention to think it is all hot air and not worth the bother.

Not a huge surprise for an organisation run by rich, dinner-party lefties who are absolutely certain that they know more than you and are better people too.

Tuesday, 20 March 2018

Armed Police - Channel 5

Having written a number of times about armed police incidents, I of course had to watch this programme on Channel 5 last night. I don't know what hopes I had for the programme, but I constantly look for someone to explain about when their operations go smoothly, with outcomes in the control of the officers. Basically, something to confirm their utility in our society and to balance the other stuff we know.

Well, this output from Channel 5 was not the place to seek such enlightenment.

So far, it is a series, we were shown only incidents that are very well known and not always 'successful'. Balance was offered by mentioning an occasion when it went wrong; I'll come back to that. What was the motivation for this piece of television? Did a film maker want to do this, or was it promoted to them as a potential 'puff piece' for the police. It certainly ended up as the latter. Perhaps the police had the final say on what was aired?

Naturally, being about a very serious subject, involving the potential of lives ending, the style was very much sensational. Tabloid TV. Early on, we heard Tony Blair speaking of our 'determination to protect our values', something he worked hard to undermine, not least the rule of law.

Not far in, Tony, an ex-firearms officer explained how the blowing open of a door to a flat, containing two terrorists in 2005, was the 'first operation in UK history to use explosive entry'. Presumably this expert had never heard of the incident at Prince's Gate in 1980, although as that was the SAS, perhaps he meant an operation conducted by the civil power? That was not made clear and is a detail to the general public. It was wrong and gave a wrong impression.

A point is made, dramatically, that the police using a 'circling tactic' to contain the area the bombers were in, having been led to their flat by intelligence. I'm sorry, but the idea that two dangerous men, potentially armed and careless about their own lives, should be surrounded doesn't strike me as the work of a genius. It seems the most basic of ideas and one that has existed forever, I would guess.

To give an example of the terrible way this programme handles such terrifying stories, to sensationalise and titillate for the viewing public, the narrative talks of the police entering a terrorists flat in 2005 and finding him standing in the bath, with a rucksack on his back and a mobile phone in his hand. An unidentified police officer is quoted as saying he formed the opinion that he was going to have to shoot this man. Which seems eminently reasonable,

The pictures switch from the training exercise being shown during the previously mentioned detail, to a thoughtful ex-policeman walking thoughtfully across a flat rooftop (for some reason). The voiceover continues; 'after a violent melee the man was tasered and overpowered'. So not lethally shot then? What strikes me about this is that the officers involved were extremely brave and their tactics perhaps not that clever. To avoid innocent death, I would have accepted an immediate lethal shot would have been the preferred option.

If someone who has already tried to kill people, looks like he is planning to do it again, I would end it, straight away. Basically an action based on decisions he made. I don't think police have a right to shoot first and ask questions after, but I do think that the terrorist, in order to live has the onus placed on him to make himself appear very non-threatening.

However, dangerous terrorist arrested, not dead.

Now we move on to the 'when it goes wrong bit'. This is 'balance'. The mistake was the shooting of Jean Charles de Menezes, a case of mistaken identity. Which is the first misleading statement, as he was shot because they hadn't identified him, at all. He was  a man and came out of the same block of flats where the terrorist was, whilst the overwatch officer was relieving himself. No-one got a clear view of Jean Charles and he remained unidentified until he was shot.

One of the ex-officers talking to the programme said, he knew 'the two officers who pulled the trigger, the two shooters' and went on to explain that whilst ordinary people would have been getting away, they went towards him. Not sure those two things go together and certainly don't in hindsight.

The curious thing for me is that, I understand that Jean Charles was grabbed, when he was in the Tube carriage, in a bear hug (to prevent him detonating a device and another officer stepped up and shot Jean Charles repeatedly in the head. So, in this instance an unidentified individual was shot and killed presenting no danger (not standing in a bath with a rucksack for instance).

And the manner of the killing is interesting too. It is very much more in the manner of the SAS. They apply a doctrine of 'overkill' to definitely eliminate a threat and quickly - not just dead, very dead. Now  there was talk at the time that the police were receiving training from the SAS, but was the real reason no proper investigation took place and no criticism levelled at senior officers knowingly lying about the incident, because someone had allowed the SAS to take the lead without proper handover from the civil power?

If that were to happen, you would expect lies, lack of investigation and perhaps the promotion of key officers who 'know too much'. The senior officer during the incident was Cressida Dick.

In the strangely dragged out piece about Raoul Moat, when the incident finished with Moat shooting himself surrounded by police, the voiceover says that the police were praised afterwards for the way they handled it. At no point did we see the comedy senior officer, who put herself in front of the cameras as often as possible, talking about 'my officers', nor was mention made that she ordered the deployment of an illegal weapon.

During the hunt for Moat, the officer who was in charge at the time (shown at one point leading a column of armed officers wearing a military style helmet at a jaunty angle, which with his casual clothes, protective 'vest' and firearm, made him look an amateur), spoke about his command. After Moat's car was found in Rothbury, he set teams to search for Moat in the surrounding woods and fields, because he was convinced he was there. Although, it seemed obvious to everyone, surely?

The Lee Rigby murder is covered and again, as we watch the armed police arrive and the murderers run straight at them, the female officer explaining that she feared for her life and shots were fired. Again, the terrorist lives, shot in the leg. Is it only innocent members of the public with chair legs in bags who can hit with kill shots?

I also watched with interest the carefully edited footage of the response to the terrorist attack in Borough market in 2017. Firstly the voiceover tells us the police are armed with handguns and high velocity carbines. Except they are not, some may have rifles, but usually, carbines of lower velocity, which is more appropriate in an urban environment. But research is tedious, no?

Then we see the BMW X5 arriving where officers deploy immediately and open fire. They needed to. No what wasn't shown was that the driver forgot to put the handbrake on and one of the officers falls over as the car rolls forward into them, having run round in front of it. Funny, if the fallen officer didn't then become a target for one of the knifemen. These ones definitely didn't survive. Better tactics overall, led to the conclusion.

The programme is awful and merely a PR piece to convince the public how brilliant the armed police are, when in fact, a balanced objective analysis would more likely suggest that our armed officers are poorly trained, use dire tactics and are very, very badly led. But, undoubtedly very brave individuals. We all deserve better.