Police admit 'shoot to kill' mistakes

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The Independent Online

The police were wrong to adopt a secret "shoot to kill" strategy against suicide bombers without public debate, the head of Scotland Yard has conceded.

Sir Ian Blair, the Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police, said that until now the police, ministers, and the Home Office had discussed using lethal force "behind closed doors". But delivering the annual Dimbleby lecture on BBC1 last night, he said: "That has to change. An open debate is now required."

The "shoot to kill" strategy came under attack after police shot dead Jean Charles de Menezes, an innocent Brazilian, on 22 July after mistaking him for a suicide bomber.

The shooting led to criticism of the lack of accountability around the Kratos policy, whose details only emerged after Mr de Menezes, 27, died at Stockwell Tube station in south London. Sir Ian said: "The dreadful death of Mr de Menezes is a watershed."

Calling for a debate on the police's role after 7 July, he added: "The police will need authority ... to deal with attacks similar to those of July and far, far worse.

"We need authority from a public which understands the dilemmas we face."