THE brutal shooting of two female police officers as they answered a routine call in Greater Manchester ignited a debate today on whether police should be regularly armed.
Film director Michael Winner, founder of the Police Memorial Trust, led calls for a change in arming police. He said: “I cannot understand it when in all other countries police are armed to fight what is clearly a different situation today. It is ridiculous.”
The family of Pc David Rathband, shot and blinded by Raoul Moat in 2010, also called for officers to be armed. His twin brother Darren, formerly of Staffordshire Police and now serving in South Australia, said: “It beggars belief. How many officers need to die before the powers realise that it is the 21st century and you cannot fight crime with an outdated piece of plastic and a bit of spray.”
Pc Rathband’s son. Ash, added: “It’s time for police to be armed in my opinion.”
But a survey by the Police Federation in 2006 showed officers were overwhelmingly against such a move.
And Greater Manchester chief constable Sir Peter Fahy insisted arming all officers was not the answer.
He said: “We are passionate that the British style of policing is routinely unarmed policing.
“Sadly, we know from the experience in America and other countries that having armed officers does not mean that police officers do not end up getting shot.”
The debate came as condemnation grew over the shootings. Sir Peter said he found it “impossible to fathom” any motive for the “cold blooded murder”. Prime Minister David Cameron called the killings “a despicable act of pure evil”.
PCs Fiona Bone, 32, and Nicola Hughes, 23, were killed while attending a reported suspected burglary in Hattersley around 11am yesterday. They were met by a man armed with a gun and a grenade who is said to have shot PC Bone in the head at point blank range before spraying bullets at PC Hughes, then throwing the grenade.
Dale Cregan, 29, one of Britain’s most wanted men, later went to nearby Hyde police station and was arrested on suspicion of murder.
Cregan, who only has one eye after reportedly losing the other during a fight in Thailand, had been the subject of a huge manhunt after the murders of David Short, 46, and his son Mark, 23. Today it emerged he had been arrested in June but then released on bail. A £50,000 reward had been offered for information leading to his arrest.