How would we deal with a situation like this in the UK?
That was one of the main questions going through my mind as I watched the terrorist incidents unfold in Paris, last week.
The French authorities were able to deploy 88,000 armed personnel immediately to tackle the heavily armed terrorists. I doubt the unarmed UK police could operationally deploy anywhere near 5,000 armed officers at such short notice. Except for the London area, without the urgent assistance of the military, our police in similar circumstances would be severely under resourced. A continuation of these types of terrorist acts may quickly result in the need for all UK police officers to be armed.
It will be a sad day if that happens, but very regrettably it may become an absolute necessity. Equally unpalatable to many in the UK, especially politicians, is that the Paris incidents show how important it is for our security services to have greater powers to conduct electronic surveillance.
The world has changed, and in order to prevent terrorist acts, the capability to lawfully monitor social media type communication is a must. The current powers available to the police and security service severely limit their effectiveness to deal with current threat levels. Other issues which need considering relate to the live coverage of developing terrorist incidents. The media attempted to follow police vehicles engaged in the pursuit of armed terrorists .That is plainly dangerous and should be banned.
Also, whilst it was exciting television to watch, the live broadcast of the hostage situations provided too much information about the location of the security cordons and the movement of officers. Any terrorist who possesses a smart phone could watch the activity or have it relayed to them by a supporter. There must be some way of managing this situation, as it is not beyond the realms of possibility that a journalist may attempt to deploy a drone camera to do a live interview with a terrorist. The clinical brutality of the Paris terrorist atrocities needs considering carefully as there is much to learn. What happened there could easily happen here and it gives me no pleasure to point out the UK is a much softer terrorist target than France.
Although we have increased our security measures, unfortunately, it must only be a matter of time before similar events occur on the streets of this country.