A police shooting has set a new record for the Conservative government that no one should be proud of

A shooting on the M62 has caused shock, grief, protests and a police investigation. But it has also revealed the biggest spike in police shootings in England and Wales for an entire decade, according to an anti-armed violence NGO. This calls into question whether the Conservative policy to increase our armed police will be best for public safety or simply cause more harm.

On Monday 2 January, police shot Mohammed Yassar Yaqub dead on a slip road of the M62, a busy motorway in Huddersfield. Reports describe the scene in dramatic terms. Police apparently “swooped” on Yaqub’s Audi sports car, firing three shots. West Yorkshire police said the incident was “related to information received about criminal possession of a firearm”.

The Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) is launching an investigation into the shooting. And Yaqub’s death sparked mini protests around Bradford’s city centre. These disturbances diminished with relative calm. But what remains is a lingering elephant in the room around our armed police force.

A worrying trajectory

According to human rights NGO Action on Armed Violence (AOAV), this incident brings the level of police shootings up to their highest for a decade. According to AOAV research, since the 2016 pledge to train over a thousand more police officers in firearms training, there have been five recorded deaths from police despatching their firearms. 2007 was the last time that five shootings took place in any one year. These numbers provide a stark comparison to those in 2013, when no deaths from police shootings occurred. This also coincides with a cut in the number of firearms officers that year.

While the pledge to deploy more armed police comes after concerns over national security, the shootings have no connection to terrorist activity. And in more than 50% of cases, the victims have not been armed – at least where details are known.

Iain Overton, Executive Director of AOAV, said:

The decision to arm more police was taken last year without any hard evidence being presented to Parliament that more guns in the hands of police will make the British population safer.

Read on...

While much of the training of these new officers has yet to be completed, we need to be absolutely clear that more armed policemen really do result in a safer Britain.

More details needed

Police made five arrests in relation to the incident in question. This includes three at the scene of the crime. They also found a non-police issue firearm in the vehicle after the shooting took place. A postmortem is due to take place on Wednesday 4 January.

The West Yorkshire police and crime commissioner, Mark Burns-Williamson, said:

The Independent Police Complaints Commission have now launched an investigation following a mandatory referral to them and it would be inappropriate to comment further at this stage until more details are known.

Investigators are still ironing out the details but the overall rising trend sets the UK on a worrying trajectory. The evidence should urge parliamentarians to consider what place an armed police really has in the UK. From the current standpoint, it seems that this particular policy is not simply failing but is proving to be fatal.

Get Involved!

Support Action on Armed Violence continue the work they do.

– Read more policing articles from The Canary.

Featured image via Flikr/David Holt

We need your help to keep speaking the truth

Every story that you have come to us with; each injustice you have asked us to investigate; every campaign we have fought; each of your unheard voices we amplified; we do this for you. We are making a difference on your behalf.

Our fight is your fight. You’ve supported our collective struggle every time you gave us a like; and every time you shared our work across social media. Now we need you to support us with a monthly donation.

We have published nearly 2,000 articles and over 50 films in 2021. And we want to do this and more in 2022 but we don’t have enough money to go on at this pace. So, if you value our work and want us to continue then please join us and be part of The Canary family.

In return, you get:

* Advert free reading experience
* Quarterly group video call with the Editor-in-Chief
* Behind the scenes monthly e-newsletter
* 20% discount in our shop

Almost all of our spending goes to the people who make The Canary’s content. So your contribution directly supports our writers and enables us to continue to do what we do: speaking truth, powered by you. We have weathered many attempts to shut us down and silence our vital opposition to an increasingly fascist government and right-wing mainstream media.

With your help we can continue:

* Holding political and state power to account
* Advocating for the people the system marginalises
* Being a media outlet that upholds the highest standards
* Campaigning on the issues others won’t
* Putting your lives central to everything we do

We are a drop of truth in an ocean of deceit. But we can’t do this without your support. So please, can you help us continue the fight?

The Canary Support us

Comments are closed