The horrific terrorist attack in Westminster that claimed four innocent lives, including that of PC Keith Palmer, has reinforced the need for a police service that has the right resources and support in place to continue running towards danger. That’s the firm belief of Steve White, chairman of the Police Federation of England and Wales, who took part in a BBC Panorama Special on Monday 27 March.
Last week witnessed the UK Parliament and innocent citizens coming under attack in the most serious terror incident in the country for over a decade. Speaking to witnesses and the injured to compile the programme, BBC Panorama reporters pieced together what happened during the attack that left several people, including the attacker, dead and many more injured.
The programme also looked into the life of attacker Khalid Masood to ask what motivated him to carry out this fatal terror strike in the heart of London.
“There are bound to be questions as to whether things would have been different if more officers were armed and if PC Palmer had possessed a firearm,” suggested White. “It’s likely we’ll never have a clear answer. What’s important is that there are many tactical options to mitigate threats that we need to consider.”
White continued: “We have to police the threats that we currently face. For their part, MPs must take the advice of professionals in the police service on what we can do and how we can best do it. We no longer live in a world of traditional unarmed British bobbies walking the streets meaning that all will be well.”
These points build on a comment piece by White which was published in the pages of The Sunday Express following the attack. In the article, White outlines his fears that such an incident will happen again, but is clear that the police service will continue to rise to the challenge.
White also touches on the need for members of the public to ensure that “what they want and what they demand from their police service is achievable.”
In conclusion, White stated: “To do this, the police service needs the tools, resources and, beyond all else, the support from leaders and Government alike in order to deliver what people want.”
Chief officers have also shared their response to the attack which took place in Westminster on Wednesday 22 March. Chair of the National Police Chiefs’ Council, chief constable Sara Thornton, said: “I know that I speak for chief police officers across the country when I say that we’re deeply saddened by the horrific events that took place in London. Our thoughts and condolences are with the families and friends of the victims and all those injured or otherwise affected. We’re devastated by the loss of our brave colleague PC Keith Palmer as he went about his duties. We offer our thanks to the first responders – professionals and members of the public alike – who put the safety and well-being of others before their own. Now and always, we stand together.”
Association of Police and Crime Commissioners chair Dame Vera Baird QC commented: “Our thoughts are with the friends and families of those that have been affected. In particular, I want to pay tribute to PC Keith Palmer who was tragically killed when on duty protecting others in Parliament. Our police, and indeed all of our Emergency Services, are the best in the world and acted with exemplary professionalism. We want to thank them all for their bravery and courage in moving so swiftly to protect the public. These are qualities that they show every single day. They’re a huge credit to us all.”
Baird added: “We must not give in to fear or the hatred that terrorists seek to spread, and we must never lose hold of the ties which bind our communities. It’s at moments like this that we must come together.”