PM meets the survivors and praises the police

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The Independent Online

David Cameron visited west Cumbria yesterday to see for himself the damage inflicted by Derrick Bird and to speak to the police officers investigating the 12 murders carried out by the gunman.

In the first national tragedy he has had to deal with since becoming Prime Minister, Mr Cameron, along with the Home Secretary, Theresa May, spent more than two hours with those attacked by Bird and those who dealt with the aftermath of the massacre.

The Prime Minister visited West Cumberland Hospital in Whitehaven and spoke to those who were injured during the shootings on Wednesday morning, praising their bravery.

He also met Cumbria police's Chief Constable, Craig Mackey, and spoke with detectives working on the case. But the Prime Minister did not venture to Whitehaven town centre, where floral tributes lining the main street make it the focal point of much of the grief.

Speaking outside Workington police station at the end of his visit, the Prime Minister said: "Obviously, people here in west Cumbria have suffered the most appalling tragedy and it will have a huge impact on the community. And I wanted to come here to show that the Government wanted to listen, wanted to show how much it cares about what has happened here.

"[Some of the people I have met here] are having to come to terms with the most appalling random acts that they will find very difficult to understand – and in some cases there will be no proper explanation."

Mr Cameron said it was too early to jump to conclusions about what may have caused Bird to go on the rampage before turning the gun on himself.

"What we don't know yet is all the facts in the case," he said. "I've had a presentation from the police about what they know so far, and there is more to be learned and more to be understood.

"There will be some parts of this that we will never understand. There were some random acts of killings, and people who will have lost loved ones will ask why it happened to them and why so random; why it is so unfair and so cruel what's happened here.

"There are incredible stories of bravery here and an amazing community that has been torn by this but will eventually come through this like other communities have."

Meeting members of the Civil Nuclear Police, who guard Britain's nuclear sites, including Sellafield, Mr Cameron told them: "Thank you for what you've done in these incredibly tough 48 hours."

The Prime Minister also spoke with civilian staff who work in the police's communications control room, answering calls from members of the public.

He told them: "I just wanted to come and thank you for what you did. It is something we cannot explain."

Asked by reporters whether there was now an urgency to tighten gun laws, Mr Cameron said: "I think the Government must look at all of the issues and, of course, gun issues is something that has to be looked at."