Thursday, August 18, 2005

Sir Ian Blair

I had been meaning to write about how impressed I was with the Metropolitan Police Commissioner's handling of the July 7 and 21 bomb crises, so I think I should record it now that everyone and his dog seems to be calling for Ian Blair's head over the shooting of Jean Charles de Menezes at Stockwell Tube station.

My impression is that, especially from July 22 onwards, the main intended audience for Sir Ian's public pronouncements has been his own officers, and that his main message has been to reassure them that they will not be hung out to dry if they make honest mistakes in tacking the deadly menace that confronts us. This is why, in my opinion, he criticised another force for using a taser rather than a firearm in tackling a suspect and sent the officer who fired the shots at Stockwell on holiday. What he was doing was sending a message to his own about the use of force.

I think it was the brave and correct thing to do when it would have been easier to hide behind weasel words and ambiguity.

Clearly the shooting of an innocent Brazilian was a tragic mistake and blame will be apportioned in due time, but a mistake it was and real responsibility lies with the those who by carrying out wholesale indiscriminate murder created the climate of terror in which it occurred.

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