Saturday, July 23, 2005

I Told You I Wanted to Be Wrong

So, it appears the man shot dead wasn't actually connected with the bombings on Thursday. This is the worst possible thing that could have happened both for the police and for us. I wrote yesterday that, given the details, police actions were entirely right. I stand by that, even now. Assuming, of course, that the circumstances that we have been told are actually true, then I don't really see what other options the police had. A man they suspected of being connected with the bombings refused to stop when asked, and, acting very suspiciously, heads straight for a Tube train. In the current circumstances it doesn't make any sense to refuse to stop in such situations, unless you are willing to put yourself in grave danger. I hate myself for saying it, because it seems to fly in the face of so much of what I believe in, but the police were right to shoot first and think later.

The caveat, is, of course, that the information we were given is true. There's already been a large amount of positive disinformation that has been given out regarding the terrorist incidents, starting from the immediate news of the bombings themselves. We now know that it wasn't a power surge; we now know that it was suicide bombers - all things the police had originally denied. This is why the tragic incident yesterday is so dangerous, for it is all grist to the mill of the conspiracy theorists. Muslim communities, already (if wrongly) suspicious of a shoot-to-kill policy against suicide bombers, will now be even less inclined to work with the police. The hard left, opponents of the police at the best of times, will have their fires stoked by this news. Overall public confidence in the police will fall dramatically, at a time when we need to be working together to root out the menace amongst us.

I admit I am normally suspicious of the police. Their actions in situations I have been involved in has bordered on the actively unhelpful, where they seem to avoid apprehending criminals to avoid the paperwork involved. Yet, especially in terms of investigations to stop suicide bombings, I appreciate the work that many of them must do. When dealing with fundamentalist Islam, they are literally putting their bodies on the line. We have to trust them as much as possible. Whilst I await the final outcome of the investigation into the death, I fear the reaction and backlash that will result.