Dirty bomb victims 'may be shot'
POLICE could be forced
to shoot members of the public to maintain order in the event
of a terrorist "dirty bomb" or biological attack on Britain,
it was claimed yesterday.
The Police Federation annual
conference in Blackpool was told that so few officers have
been trained to deal with a chemical, biological, nuclear or
radiological strike that they would have to resort to "very
unsavoury but necessary" crowd control.
Bob Elder, the
chairman of the constables’ central committee, did not refer
specifically to officers firing on civilians, but sources
within the organisation said it was clear police could have to
resort to firearms to stop contamination being spread by
The government had failed to explain
how important it would be to keep the public inside a cordon
after such an atrocity, Mr Elder said.
"This is not
about creating mass hysteria," he said. "This is about the
opposite. The public has a right to know.
reaction from the public caught up in such an incident will be
to get as far away from the scene as possible. This could, of
course, only extend the problem."
In another reference
to the possible use of firearms to keep control of an area, Mr
Elder added: "We will be the ones who would have to carry out
that containment and we would be the ones held responsible for
our actions - whatever those may be."
Asked if he
could foresee officers firing on civilians, he said: "It’s an
option the government is going to have to consider. We haven’t
got enough cops trained to deal with full-scale containment
and it’s putting everyone at risk."
A spokesman for
the Home Office insisted police would not have powers to shoot
the public to enforce a cordon in the event of a chemical,
biological, nuclear or radiological strike attack.
"Police have the right to detain people if they
present a risk to the public," he said. "There are no
circumstances in which police could operate some kind of shoot
to kill policy under the law."