February 20th, 2011

Of ethical quandries

Posted in The Job - Comment by 200

News today which will make people feel a little uncomfortable, it certainly makes me that way.

PC David Rathband, the Northumbria officer who was shot & blinded by Raol Moat last summer, is reported to be suing the force for £1million. The grounds appear to be that officers did not receive sufficient warning immediately after Raol Moat made his intentions to harm police officers known.

In these days of health & safety & risk assessment, it is clear that we should make every effort to safeguard the health & welfare of everyone we can. I have no idea the exact information the police were in receipt of nor what they told their officers so it’s really difficult to understand what’s going on in this case. I have very mixed feelings about blame & the culture in our society that something is always someone else’s fault. But at the same time, if there was a way he could have been protected with more knowledge of what Moat had told police & he wasn’t offered that protection then someone must be at fault. I’m really torn.

I once went to a domestic situation where a teenage lad had gone off the rails & was smashing the house up & threatening his parents. It was one of those calls that comes in most days & usually ends up with a few forms filled out & a sulking teenager in a bedroom.

As we drove to the address, the lad himself rang 999, having been told that his father had rung us, he told the calltaker that if the police came in he would stab them. We were not told this.

As we walked up the stairs he charged out of his bedroom with a broken bottle & tried to attack me (I was ahead of my colleague). It was only some quick wrist action in releasting the PR-24 btton from the belt that prevented either of us getting harmed. He was duly cuffed & carted off to think about what he had done.

If he had injured me, or maybe inflicted life-changing injuries, would I have sued my force?

Perhaps I would.

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  1. Sam Yeager says:

    I wonder if this has been initiated by the insurance company or the officer? If the officer then what sort of settlement woudl the officer have received from the force?

    February 21st, 2011 at 04:11

  2. Hogday says:

    An officer known to me was sent to a job where officers had previously submitted information for inclusion on the intel system about the dangerous dog at the premises, trained to attack on the command of the p.o.s. owner. The warning signs were on the control rooms `system` but not relayed to this officer and he suffered terrible injuries. The Federation acted on his behalf and successfully sued the force. That’s what the intel was there for, a useful piece of the health and safety risk assessment process, in a job loaded with all manner of risk.

    February 21st, 2011 at 08:14

  3. Ben says:

    I have a lot of sympathy for the officer here. He has lost a lot in the line of duty, and I think the force (and the taxpayer) have a duty to look after him in return.

    The shame of it is he has to sue at all. The job should give you a nice fat insurance policy for these circumstances.

    In short we owe him this.

    (On the other hand, it might be a pro-forma. Sometimes hospitals will tell people “we messed up. It’s our fault. Now you really should sue us, and the court will decide the right compensation”)

    February 21st, 2011 at 08:16

  4. anon Rob says:

    He shouldn’t have to sue, there should be adequate compensation in place for things like this.

    I wonder… is the UK the only policeforce in the world that doesn’t have armed police as the norm?

    February 21st, 2011 at 10:29

  5. shijuro says:

    anon-rob… yes.

    Here’s one for you.

    I regulary work in the front office and we still have the open counters-so people can jump over them. I have intervened in incidents ranging from domestic disputes to a man with a sharp trying to kill himself (and threatening me with it).

    I started wearing my armour until I was noticed by a CI. He took exception to this and ORDERED me not to wear it as ‘it wasn’t corporate’!!!

    I smiled and started wearing my covert vest (better quality than the force issue…) only to be told I cant wear that either as it’s not approved issue kit!

    So, when you have people like this in charge of you, is it any wonder Rathband got his face blown off?

    We are seen as expendable.

    Sad fact that a Chief would rather go on TV and say, ‘PC Shijuro was a brave man committed to the community he served etc… bull’ than ‘PC Shijuro, fearing for his life drew his 9mm and shot Mr Loon’…

    It’s just that simple.

    February 21st, 2011 at 11:00

  6. Tom says:


    This is uncomfrtable reading, as the gist I get from this post, you need a federation lawyer to ensure that your force/service will look out for you should you need to retire because of injury.

    Why do we continue to abuse the front line members of our forces and emergency services so glibly.

    February 21st, 2011 at 11:35

  7. Ex-RUC says:

    What about officers in NI who were often sent to calls despite – in some instances – Special Branch being aware this was a “come on” to a terrorist attack? Not that such would happen nowadays, of course!

    February 21st, 2011 at 17:25

  8. Hogday says:

    Ex RUC, excellent point – the protection of `sources` by sacrificing the safety/lives of those who aren’t on the `need to know` list was/is a big bone of contention.

    February 21st, 2011 at 18:21

  9. Ex-Peeler says:

    Hogday & Ex-RUC. Works both ways guys, The branch saved my life on at least 2 occasions. Last minute radio message directed me away from a gun-team and another from a landmine.

    February 21st, 2011 at 19:15

  10. Hogday says:

    Ex Peeler, glad you made that one! I ain’t saying its wrong, but its the biggest bone of contention and one I’m glad I never had to deliberate over. All I could do was realise we were pawns and try to keep my team as safe as I could. Keeping fingers crossed helped on a couple of occasions – I’m convinced of it.

    February 22nd, 2011 at 10:21

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