'Shoot To Kill': Review Into Police Use Of Guns Amid Push To Give Officers Greater Legal Protection

Action to give police greater legal protection if they shoot terrorists and other suspects is being examined by the Government, it was reported.

Prime Minister David Cameron has ordered a review amid concerns that officers who "shoot to kill" fear prosecution if they pull the trigger, senior government sources told The Sunday Times.

It said concerns were expressed by senior figures including Metropolitan Police Commissioner Sir Bernard Hogan Howe during discussions at the National Security Council over how to protect the public from a Paris-style attack.

A government review is underway into giving greater legal protection to police involved in shootings

The review comes in the same week that an officer was arrested and interviewed under caution as part of the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) inquiry into the death of Jermaine Baker.

The 28-year-old, from Tottenham, north London, died from a single gunshot wound during an operation against an alleged attempt to spring two convicts from a prison van near Wood Green.

The officer's arrest has led to armed police threatening to quit their roles, saying they would prefer to back to patrol cars than face prosecution.

Police campaigner Norman Brennan told Sky News that officers did not "shoot to kill", rather they opened fire to "stop" offenders.

The former London police officer said: "What police officers feel now, and I've been in touch with a number of firearms officers this week, (is) 'enough is enough'.

"(They think) \we put ourselves forward to protect society, we are highly trained, we are not trigger happy, but when we are at the scene when our life, or that of the public is in imminent danger, what is it the public expect us to do?"

Brennan added that some firearms officers had told him they "better go back to driving an area car".

Police marksmen have also reportedly threatened to hand in their weapons in protest at the officer being arrested over Baker's death. The MailOnline said some armed officers were "incensed" by the handling of the shooting and were ready to step down.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, who has expressed reservations about having a "shoot to kill" policy outside of anti-terrorist operations, warned that community relations could be damaged and raised fears it was a "political stunt".

The Sunday Times said it was told that the Prime Minister was prepared to change the law to reduce the prospect of officers facing lengthy court proceedings and to find ways to speed up investigations.

It quoted a senior source as saying: "Terrorist incidents both at home and abroad have shown very clearly the life and death decisions police officers have to make in split second circumstances.

"We must make sure that when police take the ultimate decision to protect the safety of the public they do so with the full support of the law and the state – there can be no room for hesitation when lives are at risk."

The review, which will report privately to the PM in the new year, will be conducted by the Home Office, the Attorney General and the Ministry of Justice and could lead to measures being included in the forthcoming Policing and Justice Bill.

Mr Corbyn told The Sunday Times: "We have to be very, very careful.

"If you want the public as a whole to have confidence in the police force and confidence they can co-operate with them in the future, any shooting on the street diminishes that confidence.

"There has to be a very robust and strong independent inquiry into what the police do. Like any other public organisation they must be held to account. I hope this is not a political stunt."

In July, a top police marksman who blasted suspected armed robber Azelle Rodney six times at short range walked free from court - after 10 years of controversy surrounding the killing.

One High Court judgment during those proceedings concluded that there was "considerable force in the expressed concern that minute dissection of fractions of a second with the benefit of hindsight will discourage an appropriate response, in real time, to threats thereby resulting in potentially increased danger to those involved in (or likely to be affected by) these exceedingly difficult operations."