Imagine a scene from any police show. Police officer is outside home of a suspect of some random crime. Suspect sees officer, starts running. Officer give chase, pulls gun. Due to no clear line of sight or presence of others that can be injured, officer heroically decides not to shoot. Story moves along.
How many times have people seen the above without any quesiton of what is actually being displayed?
Granted, this is fictional and not the real police, but it has become normal to expect such behaviour is American copy shows. No one will think that there is something wrong with the actions of the police in the above scenario.
At the same time we hear reports of police brutality, once again mainly in America, but it is also present in the UK and other parts of the world.
A few weeks ago there was a case in London where a suspect was initially reported as killed in an anti terror operation, then in an operation against a potential jail break before the officer was eventually charged for a killing with his personal firearm.
This is actually a rare event for UK policing because generally cases of Police brutality are often covered up and the victims rarely get justice. There is the recent infamous case of Mark Dugan who was killed when the police thought he had a firearm and then there is the 10 year old case of Charles De Menezes who the Police thought was an extremist and he was executed in a train infront of many witnesses.
The Police has often been found to protect itself in such cases instead of providing justice.
The tactics usd by the police can have a major impact on keeping the peace, as was recently shown in America following some killings of black individuals, such as the killing of Mike Brown in Fergusson, Missouri, along with many other similar events which were covered extensively on twitter with the hashtag #BlackLivesMatter.
The policing methods are a hugely political matter, as the type of training and policing provided can have a major impact. In AMerica, the police has been militarised with former military equipment provided to it along with some forces providig their officers training in Israel, where the Palestinians are seen as the "enemy" which have to be dealt with to such a harsh extent, whether they live or die does not matter.
Such type of training has clearly had an impact on the US policing system.
In the UK, things are different and we still have a more .. ... type of policing system, but this does have its edges with methods such as "kettling" which may push people into committing crimes for which they can then be prosecuted.
The UK does not have a shoot to kill policy either, which probably has helped in reducing the number of bodies dropped by the Police. Jeremy Corbyn caused some controversy on a related topic when he stated that he was against a shoot to kill policy.
This created uproar in the press that opposes him as him being soft on terrorism and he had to clarify that he was not against use of force against someone in the process of killing others.
While the whole media cycle may have tainted Jeremy Corbyn, his nuanced position is closer to the UK policing position than what his detractors were supporting - shoot first, ask quesitons later. This cannot be done except in the most extreme cases.
There is still an issue over what our policing system is supposed to provide - is it geared up to prevent crime or is it instead of focussed on convicting people who have committed crime.
There is a nuance of difference between those two aims which can be contradictory. If the police is focussed on the latter, it will take part in initiaties to prevent crime, while if it is focussed on the latter, it will allow crime to occur if it means greater chance of conviction.
Worse, "Kettling" of protesters etc is a process that has been known to create crime by people who had no intention of it but due to being forced into situations they may commit acts on camera for which they would be convicted with the justice system coming down on them like a ton of bricks,
The police response to the riots in 2012 also showed the police being focussed on convicting criminals instead of preventing crime. Instead of protecting shops and other property, the police simply stood back and recorded the rioters and looters, later using this as evidence to convict the individuals with harsh sentences for things like even stealing a bottle of water.
A better strategy may have been to intervene and prevent the rioting and looting. The shopkeepers would have felt better protected in this case.
A similar issue was recently raised before the Chancellor's automn statement - the police were worried that their policing strategy of extremsts would have to be altered due to funding cuts. Their focused has been on gathering enough intelligence to get convictions of extremists.
In my mind while this is important, I would want the police to be more proactive - when a young suggestible is being groomed into an extremist position, instead of waiting until they can convict him of preparing for an act of terrorism, sure an early intervention to prevent the radicalisation would be more useful?