Shoot-to-kill policy

Back in November 2005, I made an FOI request to the Metropolitan Police asking for their Shoot-to-Kill policy and all correspondence and minutes related to its introduction.

It has been a long battle, but earlier this month, the MPS released quite a bit of new material. I will be posting the full correspondence on the ‘Secret Squirrel’ pages soon. Some of you may have seen the BBC Panorama programme “Countdown to Killing” that used some of the data that was released under FOI.

These links are to releases made by Metropolitan Police Authority regarding Operation Kratos:

4 Responses to “Shoot-to-kill policy”

  1. Mark Leedale says:

    I do think we need to raise the whole matter of a shoot to kill policy. I have tried 3 MP’s to get a motion to stop the policy now. None are interested and insist that it is necessary at this time of high alert. I am minded to go to the Courts in a civil proceeding. Have not got a clue how to do it and as we all know if your pocket is deep enough you can buy justice in the UK.

    Mark

  2. Ian says:

    I would argue that, no, information about the tactics that could be employeed to tackle potential terroist attacks on UK
    citizens. If you consider that the public interest test under UK FoI legislation is focused on considering what is in the
    interest of the public, NOT what is of interest to the public, then you must consider what is in the best interest to the
    community or country as a whole.

    Also, consider the fact that FOIA is applicant blind. If you were to disclose information to a genuinely concerned party
    (as I would imagine 99.99% of FOIA applicants are), you would have no reason not to disclose it Osama Bin Laden
    (for example) if he applied for that same information. Where do you draw the line?

    Anyway, at the end of the day, it’s a tactic not a policy. The law behind the tactic is no different to those behind the
    day-to-day armed policing in operation in all UK constabularies – Section 3 Criminal Law Act 1967, Section 117 Police and
    Criminal Evidence Act 1984, European Convention on Human Rights, and Common Law.

    You have to consider the wider picture, not just what you are interested in finding out about.

  3. vaci says:

    The point of Freedom of Information is to allow us to decide what is in our best interests, ourselves. Don’t be so naive as to think that those in power will put the interests of the public before their own interests.

    Your remark about Osama Bin Laden is ridiculous. Such a character can already easily obtain all the knowledge they want for their purposes – illegally if necessary. The tiny possibility that a terrorist might find something useful out of an FOI request is just the kind of excuse politicians and bureaucrats use to restrict rights and powers that would be of great benefit to our society (far outweighing any risks from trumped-up bogeymen).

  4. Ian says:

    Vaci,

    I hate to say this but, no. The point of FoIA is, and I quote from the Act itself, is “..to make provision for the disclosure of information held by public authorities or by persons providing services to them…”. I am not aware of it being mentioned anywhere in the Act, or the s45 Codes of Practice, that the point of the Act it to allow members of the public to decide what is in the best interests of the public to disclose.

    Section 2 (2)(b) of the Act clarifies that, in instances where it is sought to apply a Conditional Exemption, “…in all the circumstances of the case, the public interest in maintaining the exemption outweighs the public interest in disclosing the information”. Hansard Discussions (House of Commons Debates) around the Interpretation of the Public Interest Tests are available – http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm/cmse9900.htm specifically in discussions on the 14th & 22nd November 2000, but the comments made by Lord Falconer on the 17th October 2000 are the most relevant to countering your argument:

    “As far as the public interest between disclosure on the other hand and the maintenance of exemption on the other is concerned, it has to be looked at objectively. One looks at the impact of disclosure, that is, making it public. What is the impact of the exemption being maintained? That should be looked at objectively rather than in terms of whatever the motive may be of the person applying. That does not mean that the motive of the person applying may not coincide with factors that could be relevant to what damage may be done and what assistance could be served by making the matter public. But individual motives will not be relevant.”

    This is what I was referring to in my previous posting when I said that the Public Interest is not what interests the public, but what will be of the greater good, if released, to the community as a whole.

    A useful interpretation of the Public Interest, in specific regard to the decision not to disclose police tactical information, can be found in the ACPO Freedom of Information Manual (http://www.hampshire.police.uk/NR/rdonlyres/ADAACFDD-AEF8-43B1-AD38-B00D9F5C441A/0/ACPO_FOI_Manual.pdf), from page 17.

    You go on to say that I am “naïve” for believing that FoIA Practitioners put their own agendas ahead of the Public Interest. I am in FoIA practitioner for a UK Police Constabulary and I have NEVER implemented my own thoughts, prejudices or priorities into conducting a Public Interest Test. I imagine you’ve had a disappointing response to a request and haven’t challenged it, or you lack sufficient knowledge of the Act to accept a declination on the chin. You believe you’re entitled to see anything regardless of the consequences that it might have to others.

    And, can I remind you, the reference to Osama Bin Laden was an example. Of course he wouldn’t write for information under FoIA! I would have hoped that those who are interested in FOIA to a sufficient level that they view this site would have seen this example for what is was – a simple illustration of the fact the Act is applicant blind and that, with motives that are good or bad, you get treated the same and have the same entitlement to information. Public Authorities have no right to ascertain either who you actually are or why you want that information. That much IS stated in the Act.

    So, really, you have countered your own argument – how can the an individual make the decision to disclose information or define what is the Public Interest when a public authority has neither the right to ask what their motive is for submitting a request, nor the obligation to consider that or their opinion in their decision making process….

    And you have the audacity to call me naïve!

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