Shoot to kill: understanding police use of force in combating suicide terrorism

Loumansky, Amanda ORCID logoORCID: and Kennison, Peter (2007) Shoot to kill: understanding police use of force in combating suicide terrorism. Crime, law, and social change, 47 (3) . pp. 151-168. ISSN 1573-0751 [Article]


More than a year after the killing of an innocent man, Jean Charles de Menezes, wrongly suspected by the Metropolitan Police of being a suicide bomber, the authors consider police accountability in combating terrorism. The authors argue that traditional policing styles in the UK are based on notions of reasonableness, compromise and respect for the individuals’ rights. A central tenet of our consent to be policed is the considered and rare use by police of coercive force, which is premised on a continuum ranging from negotiation at one extreme to lethal consequences at the other. Combating suicide terrorism in the UK using developed policies like Operation Kratos means that police are restricted to shooting to kill. Although there is undoubtedly a consensus that combating terrorism requires a robust and overt response, the authors ask whether it is ever possible to achieve a balance between liberty, security, and police accountability when dealing with difficult terrorist incidents. Police accountability is assessed in the context of operational policy-making and how that impacts on specialist police forces engaged in anti-terrorist operations. The authors conclude that since the introduction of Operation Kratos the nature of policing, and also its structure, is changing from being covert, understated and reasonable, to a zero tolerance, military, overt and oppressive style. In other words, traditional reactive policing styles have given way to a proactive military approach. Military styles of policing with overt displays of force tend to overlook civil rights and make more mistakes. We must be able to trust our police, because a trustworthy police is one which acknowledges our civil rights.

Item Type: Article
Research Areas: A. > School of Law > Law and Politics
Item ID: 1572
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Depositing User: Repository team
Date Deposited: 17 Mar 2009 17:06
Last Modified: 13 Oct 2016 14:13

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