Chapter

Police, state, fatal force and accountability

Maurice Punch

in Shoot to kill

Published by Policy Press

Published in print November 2010 | ISBN: 9781847424730
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9781447303350 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1332/policypress/9781847424730.003.0001
Police, state, fatal force and accountability

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Most police officers in Britain will never hold a firearm, face a gun or fire one. And the majority has consistently shown no desire to carry firearms routinely. Moreover, in the vast majority of incidents where firearms were deployed, no shots were fired. And on the few instances where firearms were used, more than half of the bullets missed their target. And in extreme cases where people were unfortunate to be struck by police bullets, half survived. In sum, whatever the intentions are, the majority of police shootings do not kill. This holds true for the Netherlands as well as the United States despite the common notion that American officers are ‘quick on the trigger’. This book examines the police use of firearms and its correlation to two related issues of policing. One is the command and control dimensions that Greenwood neglects and the second is the nature of accountability in major and critical incidents. The chapter also examines the connection of these three elements to the transformations in the police firearms use that emerged after the Stockwell incident. It also discusses the issues concerning the shift of British policing from the traditional ethos of policing to a more aggressive and paramilitary policing.

Keywords: police; firearms; use of firearms; command and control; accountability; police firearms use; Stockwell; paramilitary policing; British policing

Chapter.  9075 words. 

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