• Short Summary


    A big increase in violent crime in Britain has caused the police to re-examine its policy on the use of weapons.

  • Description

    1. YORKSHIRE, JULY, 1982: GV Armed police walking along road - GV police kneeling and aiming weapons - SV police being issued with weapons - GV police marksmen setting up position (4 shots) 0.13
    2. CU STILL Prudom -- GVs armed police crouching behind wall and other police and dogs taking up positions - GV police leaving helicopter. GV police vehicles in street and sound of gunshots (AT 30 SECONDS) (5 shots) 0.37
    3. HYDE PARK, LONDON, 1929: Metropolitan Police being inspected by Prince of Wales -- GV crowds - GV police marching to Buckingham Palace as Prince of Wales salutes (6 shots) (MONO) 0.52
    4. SIDNEY STREET, LONDON, 1910: GVs Armed police and troops with Winston Churchill gathered in street (6 shots) (MONO) 1.07
    5. LONDON, 1979: CU police officer loading revolver PULL BACK TO SV several officers loading revolvers - SV officer taping holes on target - SV officers taking up firing positions and firing at targets (3 shots) (COLOUR) 1.25
    6. HEATHROW, UK, 1974: Police checking cars at airport escorted by armed soldiers (2 shots) 1.37
    7. BRUSSELS AIRPORT, 1974: CU sign "Brussels" - SV armed police in airport (3 shots) 1.46
    8. BALCOMBE STREET, LONDON, 1975: SV Armed policeman covers escape of hostage across balcony - GV woman being escorted away by police to ambulance as armed police cover balcony (2 shots) 2.08
    9. LONDON, 1980: GV Armed police cover other police who placing man on stretcher 2.29
    10. GV Special Air Service (SAS) on embassy balcony throwing bomb through window and bomb explodes and smoke rises 2.44
    11. BRIXTON, LONDON, 1981: SV Police with riot shields being bombarded with stones and bricks - SV injured police escorted from scene (4 shots) 3.06
    12. SVs Armed police on patrol 3.19

    Script is copyright Reuters Limited. All rights reserved

    Background: UK AND BELGIUM

    A big increase in violent crime in Britain has caused the police to re-examine its policy on the use of weapons. It's part of a broader national debate about changes in modern policing. While the British government wishes to preserve a largely unarmed police force, the fact is that increasing numbers of guns are being issued in response to terrorism and armed crime.

    SYNOPSIS: Escalating violence from armed criminals has been forcing the police to exchange their truncheons for the hand-gun, sniper's rifle and shot-gun. Here they are surrounding a suspected triple murderer -- 37 year old Barry Prudom -- after a seven-day manhunt in Yorkshire. The fugitive was shot by police marksmen on July 4 as he was pinned down behind a wall. British police work has moved away from the traditional image of the unarmed 'bobby'...

    1929, and the one-hundredth anniversary of Britain's first official police force was celebrated in London's Hyde Park. Its founder, Sir Robert Peel, insisted his men should patrol the streets without firearms...

    But the year 1910 had seen some of the first armed policemen in action. They were personally supervised by Home Secretary Winston Churchill, clearing anarchist gunmen from a house in Sidney Street in east London.

    Now, in the violent 1980's, the police are surrendering to a growing policy of meeting armed force on equal terms...They are being trained to meet the growing number of armed criminals on the city streets. But policemen have orders to use firearms only in exceptional circumstances..
    In 1974, unprecedented security measures took place at London's Heathrow Airport because of fears of an Arab missile attack against aircraft. The British police were unarmed then -- only the army carried guns.

    In direct contrast, the police at Brussels Airport -- and other airports in Europe -- were heavily armed to maintain security against any guerrilla action.

    But in 1975, specially trained armed police were brought in during an exceptionally tense and difficult operation: the rescue of two hostages held for six days in their London apartment by gunmen of the Irish Republican Army. The police were praised by the Home Secretary for their tactical lesson -- to give patience, and nothing else.

    The increasing use of police marksmen was demonstrated again in 1981 at the Iranian Embassy in London. Nineteen hostages were held inside by gunmen for six days. The body of one of them was thrown out of the embassy and was retrieved under the cover of armed police who surrounded the building.

    By that time, men from the British Army's Special Air Services were moving into position for their assault. Throughout the dramatic attack that followed, police kept their guns trained on the scene.

    But Britain's police have not been so well equipped for other operations. Their conventional uniforms and equipment could not cope with the bricks, rocks and petrol bombs during the Brixton riots of 1981. There has been a difference of opinion about whether they should use a para-military equipment like armoured cars and plastic bullet guns.

    The leaders of Britain's police do not welcome the trend towards widespread arming of the force. They stress that most policemen never touch a gun... but they know how to use them if they have to.


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