Death penality for police killers?!

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january_bug | 19:39 Sun 20th Nov 2005 | News
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I have just seen on the news that the former Metropolitan Commissioner Lord Stevens has reconsidered his opinion on the death penalty and now says it should be reintroduced for those who kill police officers.

What are your views on this?!


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I didn't realise police officers (who are, in my opinion, just fab everyday heros who deserve our support and respect, mostly!) are more important than the rest of us mere mortals here.

Bu bringing back the deathpenalty for police killers is saying really that killing a PO is way more worse a crime than killing anyone else, say a child in an abducation, or an elderly granny in an armed burglury.

I wonder how the parents of Holly Wells and Jess Chapman, or sarah Payne would take that?

I am not against capital punishment, I have to say, but I think it has to be a 'murder charge' and not just a PO muder charge' Doesn't sound very 'just'.

I'm sure I'll get slated for saying I agree with the death sentence, but when you look at the low crime rates of countries that have the death penalty for heinous crimes such as murder, rape and murder have to wonder if we are too soft. People are so rarely convicted today unless there is ample evidence. Even for things such as burglury or petty crime, in other countries you can be sentenced to a lesser crime in jail, but 50 lashes aswell. I think the lashes is way more a deterrent, than the short time sentence!

P.S How can they be saying about bringing this back, when we aren't even allowed to spank our children???

'low crime rates of countries that have the death penalty'

What like the good old united states of america, you mean?..

Whatever the merits or not of the death penalty, and i'm open minded on it, there is no conclusive evidence whatsoever that it deters murderers to commit these appalling acts.

And who is saying that it should be brought back, its not the government just the usual rent a quote politicians and media experts, oh and sir john stevens who has a column in the news of the world to promote..

Personally i hope the scum who murdered this police woman rot in hell, but what would that accomplish, apart from fullfilling a thirst for revenge,ultimately it won't bring this poor lady back will it? or give her five children the mother and normal happy family life they are now deprived of..

Its all so sad.

It's not because they are thought to be more important.

It's about giving them more protection.

What would you prefer arming all Police or Stiffer penalties for crimes against them?

Question Author

mimififi - I really agree with the first part of your post. Police officers should be respected, but they are no more loved by their families than others. And they are arguably no more important to society than doctors, nurses and teachers, so why the call for special treatment?!

I don't think the death penalty would put off gun-toting criminals because they are exactly the sort who think they are above the law and will get away with anything they do anyway.

I disagree with you on the death penalty, although I certainly wouldn't slate you for your views! My one major concern is simply that if one mistake is made....

As a great lawyer (whose name escapes me *blushes*) once said - "better to let ten guilty men go, than to convict one innocent one" (or words to that effect!). When applied to the death sentence, I wholeheartedly agree with this sentiment. Moreover, I feel that the death sentence would be used on crimes where we need to deter people. Sadly however, I believe they fall into the category I mentioned above - people who think they are above the law anyway. Or people who are so psychotic that they are incapable of making a rational decision and thus the threat of a death penalty wouldn't affect them.

That said, much as I am against the death penalty, if we're going to have it for murder, then we should darn well have it for murdering ANYONE, not just police officers.

That's my view!

Question Author

Obviously I only saw post one before I typed post 4.

I'd prefer arming all police - with full and proper training, before the death penalty was reintroduced. Again, for the reasons stated above.

Please let's not have another fight amongst ourselves. If you don't feel that the views of a "rent-a-quote" columnist are worthy of debate, then feel free not to join in the thread. I was actually raising the point in general, of the death sentence for those who murder police, regardless of who suggested it. I welcome all views on that point.

did not know that the former Commissioner was a Lord. Did he state specifically that the death penalty should only be sought for police killed on duty. What about Customs/Immigration staff. What about train/bus drivers and the myriad of other jobs that deal with the public. Its a non starter this. Its not on any political manifesto, no party is going to bring such type of legislation through the parliaments. Lord Stevens is only digging himself a bigger hole. He said something about Blunkett and the police which i thought was in bad taste so he was probably making another off the cuff remark. But under the circumstances of a police death you could forgive him for such a remark..

Just after such a tragedy is not really the time to debate this. In the cool light of day, we shall see that we lose far fewer police officers (and other people) than other countries do. For example, in the county where I live, only one police officer has ever been murdered, and he died in 1849 of a broken leg. As it is, we have some of the police armed, but they are trained to a very high standard, much higher than if they all had to be trained and re-qualify regularly.

As for the death penalty for police killers, my mind is open at present, but I can't get out of my mind the nurses who have been attacked in A & E recently. Who else needs special protection and where would it end?

Question Author
As you know, I don't give stars in these debates, lest I should appear biased, but I do appreciate the posts - especially as they are so well thought out and measured, and I hope that anyone reading, whether a "news regular" or not, will feel welcome to join in! :-)

I agree with you jan bug re arming the police. I would like to see all our POs trained and armed.

I wasnt actually referring to the US, There are many countries where the death penalty and other capital punishments are in practice, particulrarly those under muslim law. Where as I do NOT advocate extremism, you dont generally see granny bashing and raping murdering and the like in qutie the same way as you do here sometimes, places such as saudi, dubai, singapore (which incidentally is a wonderfully calm place to live, where your daughters could go anywhere) have to be doing something right.

however, my heart goes out to that family who have just lost their mum. as a mum of 5 myself, i cant imagine the pain. she was a hero, and i salute her.

I heard this on the radio yesterday and my first thought was that they should treat everyone the same. You cannot think that one persons life means less than another. If they bring back the death penalty (and I can't see that happening) then it has to be for all murders. Having said that mistakes happen and sometimes they convict the wrong person.

Whenever I hear a call for the re-introduction of the death penalty,(and I accept it hasn't been called for by ABers here.) I always think of Timothy Evans and Ruth Ellis.

For those of you who don't know about them. Timothy Evans was a lodger of the murderer, Christie, and was executed for Christie's crimes. When further bodies were found in Christie's garden, the authorities realised they'd hanged the wrong man. Sadly, hanging Christie didn't bring back the man with learning difficulties.

As for Ruth Ellis, she killed her lover and would be accepted as a victim of domestic violence today and suffering from severe psychological problems.

My point, belatedly, is my fear of mistakes. I'm in favour of life imprisonment meaning life, but I can't abide the idea of the re-introduction of the death penalty.

Sorry, if I've drifted off the point.

Question Author
Drusllia - I don't feel you've drifted off the point at all! :-) I must say that when someone asks for the SHORT version of my reason for opposing the death penalty, it's a rare occasion when I can make my point in two words: Timothy Evans. A tragic case, well illustrated in the wonderful book by Ludovic Kennedy. And a point to note if ever this debate is had by politicians.

To answer the original question, my views on this are that Lord Stevens is a prat trying to cling on to the past and only being able to do this by making irrational sensational headlines.

I am fairly open minded on the reintroduction of the death penalty under very strict guidelinelines.

I would certainly not want the introduction of arming the police - I am not convinced that they can use the powers they have now. That said, I would have no problem with letting them have Tasers.

I would also point out that the case you referred to is from over 50 years ago. This was at a time when b*ggery was illegal and signs saying "no blacks or irish" was acceptable.

Comparing our society to that of the 40s/50s is pretty ludicrous. And I suppose if you want two words, I can give you three letters: DNA

The Ruth Ellis case is a tricky one in some ways, cos if you read the court transcripts, she was advised to plea crime pasionelle (sp) which is basically crime of passion, and she would have most likely got off, unfortunately, and you are right that she had many pysche probs, she actually requested to plead guilty as she hoped she would be executed. If she were being tried today, she would have had a pysch report done (I think all murderers are seen by one, I may be dreaming that tho!) and she would have been declared unfit.

I wonder if this statement has just come out tho as people want us to feel as though 'they' are really doing something about this tragic murder when the Brit public are gonna be so upset with it. In a few months time when there is water under the bridge, I doubt we'll hear of this again.

Very few people are convicted wrongly these days. More people get off on a technicality even when they are guilty because of the courts' unwillingness to convict unlawfully. As the previous post says DNA goes a long way.

I don't really know what the answer is, all I know is sometimes it feels like britain is in a downward spiral, and we have to do something, quick before we are so far down the road, we don't know the way back.

The whole thing just highlights how things are in society today, and it fills me with sorrow.

John Stevens neatly misses the point by saying that the murder of a police officer is one of "pure evil" and should be punished by death. Murder is murder, it makes no difference if it's a police officer or anyone else.

Policing is a dangerous job. So is being in the army. In extreme circumstances you might get killed doing the job, but that's part of it.

If Abigail Witchalls was a black illegal immigrant single mother with a drug problem, stabbed on an inner city council estate, would she have received the same media exposure? I think not.

If the officer in question was not a vaguely photogenic mother-of-kids-and-married 38 year old, and instead some fat, balding copper nearing retirement, would they be calling for the death penalty ? No.

No-one seems to have asked the question yet though, why were two unarmed officers sent to the scene of an armed robbery?

Rather like downing a bottle of vodka, and then waking up and complaining of having a hangover.

good points all Andy 008. And it makes me sadder than ever.

I walk into a room and shoot the one person in the room with a silenced pistol. I walk away and burn all the clothes I wore and throw the gun (wiped clean) into a paint tin of acid. I throw the paint tin into the canal and then have a shower, in which I scrub clean like a surgeon preparing for surgery, thus destroying any gunpowder residue on my body.

"DNA evidence, guvnor? What DNA evidence?"

I may be exaggerating a point, but you only get DNA evidence when victim comes into contact with aggressor, or the aggressor is careless.

Rapists today are learning about DNA evidence and often shave off their body hair prior to an attack, wear a condom and then force their victims to bathe afterwards, destroying a great deal of evidence.

The discovery and use of DNA evidence is wonderful, but it is not going to prevent errors, particularly in cases where the public are desperate for a conviction and desperately want to believe the police have got the right man.

you are right, Dru, I hope our technology keeps abreast of the crime.

Nothing's foolproof, and I'm just glad that it's not me that makes these decisions....

The world is such a sad place sometimes. I don't know what to do with the sorrow it makes me feel. :-(

Question Author

As I understood it, the officers "came across the robbery". Initial reports have very strongly implied that they were not called to the scene by their own control room, but that they saw somethig wrong, or were called in my a member of the public (who perhaps did not realise how seroius the situation was). Therefore, at the present time, I don't think that is a question that requires answering at all.

I know exactly how Buddy felt in her licensing laws question now. So many people are, to paraphrase Andy008, "neatly missing the point". I was inviting a debate on death penalty for some murderers but not for others. Still, free forum and all that.

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