For a country which has given up the use of capital punishment, it is both inconsistent and wrong for the police to be allowed to adopt a 'shoot-to-kill' policy.
The practical objection has always been that mistakes can and will be made, and it will always be too late to remedy them. The moral problem is that of the state doing just what the law condemns.
Recent memories of coping with the unrest in Northern Ireland should still be fresh. The Bloody Sunday army shootings blighted community relations and gave justification for IRA violence for years afterwards.
The repeated wrongful arrest and sentencing of members of the Irish community, in Birmingham and Guildford for instance, show how political pressure can encourage the police and judiciary to make mistakes. This is a double disaster, since not only do the innocent suffer but the guilty escape justice.
Authorising the police to act as judge and executioner will forever put them in the miserable position of murdering innocent people. That is not a responsibility I want to put on anyone. I imagine most police would hate to have that responsibility.
If any of the police are trigger- happy then they should never be given the responsibility. Shooting to disarm or pacify may be a reasonable alternative.
There is also a moral objection. When the state resorts to murder it only validates murder. That has always been the basic argument against capital punishment and it applies just as much to ?shoot to kill?.
When the state invades, oppresses, exploits and neglects, it sets an example which it cannot object to others following.
The whole tragedy of the Government?s ?War on Terrorism? is it has the opposite effect. It is an open invitation for all those with real or imagined grudges to use violence to promote their cause.
We now have oppression abroad and repression at home.
The politicians who have taken us back to gunboat diplomacy and heavy-handed policing are the same ones who talk about preserving the British way of life.
With both with the invasion of Iraq and the shoot-to-kill policy, they have forgotten about ?being innocent until proven guilty?.
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