POLICE could be forced to shoot members of the public to
maintain order in the event of a terrorist "dirty bomb" or
biological attack on Britain, it was claimed yesterday.
The Police Federation annual conference in Blackpool was told
that so few officers have been trained to deal with a chemical,
biological, nuclear or radiological strike that they would have
to resort to "very unsavoury but necessary" crowd control.
Bob Elder, the chairman of the constables central committee,
did not refer specifically to officers firing on civilians, but
sources within the organisation said it was clear police could
have to resort to firearms to stop contamination being spread
by fleeing victims.
The government had failed to explain how important it would be
to keep the public inside a cordon after such an atrocity, Mr
"This is not about creating mass hysteria," he said. "This is
about the opposite. The public has a right to know.
"The natural reaction from the public caught up in such an
incident will be to get as far away from the scene as possible.
This could, of course, only extend the problem."
In another reference to the possible use of firearms to keep
control of an area, Mr Elder added: "We will be the ones who
would have to carry out that containment and we would be the
ones held responsible for our actions - whatever those may
Asked if he could foresee officers firing on civilians, he
said: "It s an option the government is going to have to
consider. We haven t got enough cops trained to deal with
full-scale containment and it s putting everyone at risk."
A spokesman for the Home Office insisted police would not have
powers to shoot the public to enforce a cordon in the event of
a chemical, biological, nuclear or radiological strike
"Police have the right to detain people if they present a risk
to the public," he said. "There are no circumstances in which
police could operate some kind of shoot to kill policy under