Friday, February 17, 2006



Injured police officer Rachael Bown remains in a serious but stable condition in Nottingham's Queen's Medical Centre hospital, after she was shot while on duty in the city in the early hours of this morning (Tuesday 14 th February 2006). The 23-year-old probationer officer, and an experienced male colleague, had responded to a 999 call of a burglary at a house in Lenton Boulevard, Lenton, shortly before midnight. During a search of the area the two officers approached a man in nearby Forster Street. It was there that the suspect produced a firearm and shot PC Bown. Her colleague was not injured. PC Bown, who was wearing body armour, was taken to hospital where she underwent emergency surgery. Shortly after 5am she was transferred to intensive care where she remains in a serious condition. Her family are with her at the hospital. The officer's family has asked the media to respect their privacy and will not be commenting publicly at this time. Police immediately cordoned off several scenes for forensic examination. House-to-house inquiries have been conducted throughout the day, along with searches. These are expected to continue overnight and into tomorrow. An incident room has been opened at Radford Road Police Station and Detective Chief Inspector Dave Giles is leading the inquiry team. No arrests have been made in connection with this incident.

More here

Comment from "The Telegraph" below. Note that attacks on female police arouse great outrage in Britain. The Brits love their WPCs

The casual way in which Pc Rachael Bown was gunned down in Nottingham raises disturbing questions about the level of armed crime in Britain. This was not a major armed robbery, or a shoot-out between drugs gangs. It appears to have been the work of two petty thieves, caught in the act of a fairly routine domestic burglary. Why should they have been carrying firearms? And why did they not hesitate to use them?

Understandably, the conclusion drawn by the public is that armed crime is out of control, that the police do not have the strategies to deal with it and that even small-time criminals do not fear the consequences of going equipped with a gun. Unfortunately, I think the public are right.

The outright ban on handguns since the Dunblane massacre has not had the desired effect. Illegal possession and use of firearms has rocketed and more firearms are in the hands of criminals than at any time in our history. Firearms amnesties and enforcing a largely irrelevant law against the law-abiding has had no appreciable effect on the problem.

The sociology of Britain is changing. Possession of guns and willingness to inflict violence is seen in some quarters as desirable, even heroic. Weapons are now available from a seemingly infinite range of sources.

Jamaican Yardie cocaine traffickers began the recent proliferation of sophisticated firearms in Britain in the late 1980s, importing semi-automatic pistols and Uzi submachine guns from America and the Caribbean. The television presenter Jill Dando was probably assassinated with a converted replica handgun with a modified 9mm round, useless for accuracy but deadly at point-blank range. There are thousands of these guns available to criminals, who, thanks to word of mouth and the internet, have no difficulty in converting them from ornaments to lethal weapons. Eastern Europe is also the source of much weaponry. Former Warsaw Pact guns form the bulk of recovered weapons in the United Kingdom. Drugs and guns go together, and the ability to smuggle large quantities of drugs is coupled with the ability to smuggle firearms. There is clearly an internet trade in firearms and HM Revenue and Customs cannot possibly monitor the vast number of parcels entering the country.

The gun problem is enormous and growing. The courts do their best and usually pass stiff custodial sentences on those convicted of possession. The trouble is that there are not enough criminals being convicted.

And what are the police doing? Sir Ian Blair, the Metropolitan Police Commissioner, talks of a "holistic" approach to policing and advocates the use of dedicated teams - each comprising perhaps a sergeant, two constables and two community support officers - to provide a visible policing presence and reassurance to the public. One has to question if that is the best they can do as a cutting edge against violent crime. Sir Ian should remember it is not the number of police that matters, but what they actually do. Very few people would suggest that the community support scheme has been a success against real criminals. They are poorly trained and largely left to their own devices, and are defined by what they cannot do. They have been brought into the fray in order to reassure the public, rather than to combat crime.

There is nothing complicated about policing, but political interference and downright lies about crime figures confuse the issue. The simple solution is not to increase numbers of ineffective support officers, but to empower the professionals. There is insufficient incentive and reward given to those police who do try to attack the problem of lawlessness in a robust manner. Senior officers too often find it easier to stand back than to become involved in confrontation. If policing is to meet the challenge posed by this new generation of hubristic armed criminals, the first priority must be to improve the quality of intelligence. This can be achieved - if the will is there - by providing more and better-trained detectives with strong leadership to encourage the development of informers. Senior officers have for years shied away from the informer and supergrass because of the potential accusations of corruption. They should remember that they are in the risk management business and it is their job to manage all informer-handling situations. They are police officers, not public relations executives or social workers.

A few years ago, Scotland Yard actually closed the world-renowned detective training school at Hendon. Thankfully it has since been reopened, but its closure showed the contempt in which the skills of the CID were held. The prejudice against detectives still exists and, until they are recognised for what they can achieve, it is doubtful whether any serious inroads can be made into the firearms problem.

A coherent approach is required. The reduction of gun crime should be a priority in all major conurbations. The lead agency should probably be the National Serious and Organised Crime Unit, with links to the intelligence-gathering throughout the country, including the security services. But real information is gathered on the streets and it is here that the intelligence gathering must start. The physical danger to front- line or response officers is clear and the number of officers shot is the tip of the iceberg. There are many more officers who are shot at, threatened with firearms or knives, and one needs to analyse those figures to get a true perspective of what is happening on the streets of Britain today.

The debate about whether the police should be armed will continue to rage, but, even if the decision is eventually taken, a major project to arm the police would take years to implement, with major changes to recruitment and training being the starting point. In the meantime, the danger to unarmed officers will continue to increase and something must be done now. A storm is gathering and, if they are to weather it, the police must reclaim the streets. If they fail to do so, they will have many more Rachael Bowns on their conscience - and worse.


Elementary -- and appalling: "The first rule of gun handling is never to point at anything you don't want to shoot. That means your gun muzzle should never cross another person at any time. That means that, when hunting birds, you should always carry your gun with the muzzle pointed downrange -- and up. That Vice President Cheney did not observe this elementary precaution, that he apparently turned and fired a shot level with the ground, I find appalling. It is not my job to call for his resignation. But I can certainly call his behavior and judgment into question."

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