British Unarmed Police Could Let Violent Suspects Go if Public Doesn’t Help

NEWCASTLE UPON TYNE, ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 21 : Police officers on patrol outside St James' Park ahead of the Barclays Premier League match between Newcastle United FC and Leicester City FC at St James' Park on November 21, 2015 in Newcastle Upon Tyne, England. (Photo by Mark Runnacles/Getty Images)
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The chairman of London’s Metropolitan Police Federation, Ken Marsh, has said that the country’s routinely unarmed police may let violent suspects go if the public does not step in to help.

Mr Marsh suggested the police could no longer be the bulwark between order and criminality without public assistance, saying on BBC Radio 4: “We don’t come to work to get assaulted, and if we’re not going to be backed up…then what is the point?”

“We’re going to come to a point where we’re going to start pushing messages out to our colleagues: ‘Risk-assess it dynamically and, if you think you can’t detain a person, just let them go,'” he added.

The call for assistance appears to contradicts request from other forces for civilians to stay out of policing matters, including London’s neighbouring Essex Police which warned against residents patrolling their communities in “vigilante” groups following an increase in crime.

UPDATE 1700 — Metropolitan Police contradict call for aid, warns public against getting involved

Metropolitan police assistant commissioner Sir Steve House moved to distance the force from the calls for assistance from London Police Federation boss Ken Marsh on Tuesday, when he warned members of the public against getting involved in apprehending violent suspects The Guardian reports.

The senior officer said: “While officers should never expect to be attacked as part of their job, a core part of officer safety training is ensuring they know how to respond to volatile situations.”

He continued: “This training is substantial and delivered in accordance with national guidelines, and we regularly review it to make sure it is fit for purpose. Officers are also issued with personal protective equipment to help protect them and the public.

“I am mindful that members of the public do not have access to such items and, while any officer would be grateful for the public to assist them with a difficult arrest, they should only intervene if they can safely do so.”

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The federation police chief made the comments after a video was circulated on social media showing the brutal attack of two police officers in Merton, south-west London, Saturday night.

The assaults happened following a routine traffic stop, with three assailants running from the vehicle.

During the pursuit, one female police officer suffered a head injury after a suspect aimed a flying karate kick at her, while the second officer was dragged across the street while he pursued the third attacker.

The Telegraph reports that the female officer had attempted to subdue the suspects with a police-issued incapacitant spray, but to no effect.

Several cars were reported to have driven by during the violent altercations, with one motorcyclist stopping to help the unarmed police officers.

Suspect Martin Payne, 20, was arrested and charged with assault causing actual bodily harm and assaulting an officer. Two other suspects are still at large.

Mr Marsh also scolded members of the public for “mocking” police telling the public broadcaster: “If the public now think it’s OK to stand and film and mock my colleagues…then we are in very dangerous grounds.

“I’m not asking members of the public to suddenly jump in to assist police officers because we are highly trained in what we do.

“But what I’m trying to get across is the simple fact that society has changed so much lately that it seems to be OK [to be] more interested in mocking us and filming us.”

Police forces have come under criticism from the public in recent years over the prioritisation of hate crimes over real crimes, with recent statistics revealing that one in five Britons have experienced a crime.

The Home Office recommends that police do not seek the support of the public, and if a private individual offers to assist, the officer must assess whether to ask the civilian to desist or call off the pursuit.

Following the deadly terror attack in London Bridge in the summer of 2017, a majority of Britons (72 per cent) backed routinely arming police officers such as they are in the U.S.

However, the National Police Chiefs’ Council said that officers are put off from applying to become armed, citing concerns over how they will be treated after shooting a suspect, including fearing suspension and legal repercussions.

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