Much to admire in police response to double murder

The murder of two Manchester police officers in a gun and grenade — especially grenade — attack, sounds like something from an over-the-top film and is particularly hard on Greater Manchester Police who have been so successful in reducing gun crime since its 1990s peak. It is because these incidents are so rare and untypical that they shock; for the same reason they don’t really offer any lessons for the future. That makes the deaths all the more cruel — there will be no good we can point to — and must make things all the harder for the victims’ families and the police themselves.

What has most impressed me is the police’s ability to respond to this awful event with such great professionalism and intelligence: Meeting calls to arm police officers with well reasoned responses and explanations of the philosophy of contemporary British policing, while quietly batting away questions on the death penalty.

That communities must be policed by consent and that the police must be a respected and trusted part of the community is not only an important democratic principle, it must also be the most effective way to fight crime. These murders do not appear to be the work of an eccentric loner, but of leaders of an organised crime gang deeply embedded in a marginalised community with the power to bring that gang down, if it chose to work with the police. But just as the murderer and attempted police killer Raoul Moat, inspires some so this killing spree has its admirers. That calls on the police to be incredibly restrained and professional in the face of inevitable provocation.

Avoiding the Duff response

Yet elsewhere on the internet, and as bizarre as a Raoul Moat tribute, the internet troll David Duff suggests the murdered police are partly to blame as they were Plod-like (he has since clarified in a comment, that this is an extrapolation of his prejudice that all police are Plod-like). David Duff has form as a troll who insists victims should share blame, but it is probably fair to say that his ‘hang him!’ blog is a common knee-jerk response of precisely the kind the police would like to dampen down with reason. The casual insult of the victims betrays him as someone whose need to enjoy vengeance far outweighs his ability to spare a thought for those directly affected.

If we really are to support the police in their efforts to defeat organised crime we too, like the police, will need to avoid a David Duff response. The community that sheltered this gang could have prevented this tragedy, so it is all the more vital that the police win that community’s consent.

2 thoughts on “Much to admire in police response to double murder

  1. I have never been certain what is meant by calling someone a ‘troll’. If you have a comments section on your site presumably you are looking for, er, comments. To suppose that all comments will be deeply agreeable, flattering and in line with one’s own opinions is to indicate stupidity, or naivitee, of a positively dangerous nature.

    You have left disagreeable comments on my blog and received crisp but courteous responses. Should I, then, denounce you as a ‘troll’ – assuming of course that the word is an insult?

    Perhaps your confusion arise from your obvious reading difficulties. Nowhere in my conversation with Bob Piper did I say, or even imply, that the victims [at Hillsborough] were to blame in any way. I repeated the fact that was obvious from the very beginning that the people who died had arrived early, had tickets and had behaved properly. The guilty ones were, irrespective of the confused Bishop of Liverpool, the hooligans who pushed and shoved from the back, most of whom arrived late and many of whom did not have tickets.

    My belief that the re-introduction of hanging would save lives does not emanate from my knees but from my brain because I have thought about it and reached my current cponclusion after previously holding an opposite opinion. When did you last change your mind, Stephen?

  2. To be fair, your comments on murdered police and Hillsborough, may not meet the Wikipedia definition of a troll as your views are most likely sincerely held and on topic, although even here it is acknowledged that the definition is subjective. In any case, as lexicographers since Dr Johnson have acknowledged, the meaning of words is elastic and ever changing.

    One can think of people threatened with action under the Communications Act 2003 (for example Daniel Thomas’s Tweets to diver Tom Daley or the woman cited above who created a Raoul Moat tribute on Facebook) who are, like you, expressing sincerely held on topic views. The common factor appears to be that these views are eccentric and offensive to mainstream opinion (or as the Act would have it ‘grossly offensive or of an indecent, obscene or menacing character’; being on-topic or sincerely holding the offensive opinion is no defence in law).

    An additional problem presents itself here as we struggle to understand what is mainstream, especially as mainstream opinion shifts so readily.

    Nevertheless, the reaction to the Dale Cregan Facebook page cited above supports the notion that it is offensive to suggested the recently murdered police were dim witted (and why mention their alleged stupidity, if not to imply this was a relevant contributory factor), but I see you’ve not defended yourself on that charge here. With regard to Hillsborough, it is fair to suggest that all who were in the crowd were victims; at the very least all would have suffered some shock. So to blame the crowd is to blame the victims. I have twice experienced poor crowd control leading to, thankfully, minor injury to others in the crowd. The most unlikely of these was queuing to visit the Reichstag, Berlin. The large crowd surged in response to a sudden heavy rain shower and those of us near the front were lifted off our feet and carried forward; a few at the front suffered injury. Obviously, nobody blamed individuals in the crowd; the incident was clearly the result of inadequate stewarding. Similarly, Hillsborough cannot be blamed on members of the crowd.

    As for your being courteous — and this is a very minor matter — I would point to your rather silly attempt at insult, (off topic, on this occasion) when I first commented on your blog: ‘(Ooops, no, I’ve just looked at your photo and young you ain’t!)’

    You will not find any examples of my stooping to insult either in comments left on your blog or in my replies to you.

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