The Guardian has taken up the article below first published on the Express and Echo website:
The original article:
“The crime czar has come under fire for entertaining the idea that armed citizens could repel a terrorist attack.
Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) Alison Hernandez was asked by a caller to a Radio Cornwall phone-in whether private citizens with gun licences should use weapons to defend their community.
The Conservative did not support the idea but rather than outline standard police advice she told the woman to write in and promised to talk to the chief constable about it.
Devon and Cornwall police moved to quell any talk that the force might consider sanctioning some form of community force ready to take up arms in places like Devon.
The second most senior office told the public to stand down and said “highly trained police firearms officers and Special Forces will be deployed”
The police staff association also stated that such a move was not the way forward though it was unsure of the legal implications if such an extreme situation arose.
A spokesman for Ms Hernandez suggested she had been “dead batting” a controversial question and in no way backed the creation of a vigilante force.
William Morris, an independent candidate who stood for election as PCC last year, said there was “no way” we should even be “discussing or promoting the idea that an individual can take the law in their own hands”.
“I can understand how passions are aroused because terrorism is a terrible crime against humanity but if we start thinking that way then terrible mistakes can happen – it is not the right approach.
“Terrorism is beyond wrong – it is utterly abhorrent.
“The advice from the Met police will be echoed by the chief constable – to leave the area, if not to hide and then to report.
“I would hope she would (repeat this) and I am sure she will is she is asked again. Every right thinking person with a sense of community responsibility would say the same and I am sure on reflection she would.”
The issue of the public fighting back came to the forefront during the most recent terror attack in London when a football fan single-handedly took on the three knife-wielding killers.
Milwall supporter Roy Larner battled the terror attackers armed with nothing more than his fists and has been hailed a hero, with a petition launched for him to be awarded the George Cross.
In fighting back, the 47-year-old gave dozens of others who were in the Borough Market restaurant the chance to escape.
It is not the first time the Tory politician has got into hot water in Cornwall.
The police and crime chief, who admitted smoking dope as a teenager, last year confessed her love for hard-core gangsta rappers across the Tamar.
She revealed during an internet discussion on the Cornish Truro Hour that she was a one-time “fly girl” and a fan of California outfit NWA (Niggaz Wit Attitudes).
The group’s debut album in 1988, Straight Outta Compton, began with the track “F**k tha Police”, a protest against police brutality and racial profiling
A woman who called the Cornish chat show on Monday asked Ms Hernandez what her view on allowing licensed firearm users to enter the fray.
However, she later reportedly refused to discuss the idea further, not wanting to embarrass the commissioner.
Janice Adam, from the Police Federation, said reacting to and dealing with any such incidents should be left to highly specialised firearms officers.
A spokesman for the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner (OPCC) said Ms Hernandez was not intending in any way to promote the idea.
“The answer came in response to a call to a radio show,” the spokesman added.
“The official advice from the police is to run, hide and communicate and Alison advocates this. There is no intention whatsoever to promote the use of guns by private individuals as weapons in any way.”
The force issued a statement following the radio show.
Deputy chief constable Paul Netherton said: “Quite obviously a marauding terrorist is the most challenging of circumstances, the police response requires significant professionalism and training as well as firearms capability.
“During these incidents, highly trained police firearms officers and Special Forces will be deployed to protect our communities.
“We would only use the normal military in response to a national security threat level and they would be deployed to free up police resources from their security duties.
“Under no circumstances would we want members of the public to arm themselves with firearms, not least because officers responding would not know who the offenders were, and quite obviously they would not have the time to ask.
“Our message to the public is a simple one: to run, to hide and to tell.
“Having said that, I accept that British policing will require anuplift in resources in response to the unprecedented threats we are currently facing.
“This includes additional operationally firearms capability as well as an investment in our local policing which does so much to identify and prevent people from committing terrorist acts.
“In light of the recent terrorist attacks and the threats that the UK are facing, we have already reviewed our resources and are working with other agencies to ensure that we have the capability to meet these threats.