Page last updated at 15:58 GMT, Tuesday, 26 July 2005 16:58 UK

Is police anti-terror policy justified?

The Met Police Chief has insisted that the policy of "shoot-to-kill in order to protect" should continue.

This is the second page of your comments.


The following comments reflect the balance of opinion we have received so far:

This is exactly what the terrorists want - for us to begin terrorizing ourselves
Elias, Canada
I'm sorry, but shoot-to-kill should never be justified unless absolute certainty. This is exactly what the terrorists want - for us to begin terrorizing ourselves. Alternate methods should be developed to deal with potential terrorists.
Elias, Canada

I agree that police officers must have a means of protecting the public. However, when a suspect is down one shot, and one shot only, is sufficient. The fact that an innocent man was killed is not the point. This was an execution purely by the element that all reports state five shots were fired into the back of this young person's head.
Helena, Morden, Surrey

I would say the policy is justified, but what we have seen as the first example of its implementation is a shocking tale of police incompetence. The latest revelation about his visa expiring is a further indictment of a system that fails to ensure our country is properly policed. To say further casualties are almost inevitable is disgraceful given what we have just witnessed.
Bob, Aberdeen

This was a tragic and regrettable death. But to say, as at least one correspondent has here, that the police are to be feared more so than the terrorists is irrational, unreasonable and demonstrates a poor assessment of the risks.
Nick, Surrey

Shoot-to-kill is absolutely justified when dealing with suicide bombers
Beth, London
I think that shoot-to-kill is absolutely justified when dealing with suicide bombers. Commuters who obey police commands will not be at risk.
Beth, London

NO, NO, NO. From the reports, it would seem the police are far too trigger happy. Use the military to support the police where firearms are concerned. They are better trained, more disciplined and far less likely to panic in a situation like the one described.
Tim, Glasgow

I don't think that those of us commenting from the safety of our computers should criticise the police. They have only a few seconds to determine if someone is threat and react accordingly. We have weeks to analyze the decision and debate the pros and cons of it. The London Police have nothing to apologize for in my opinion, and those here who are calling them trigger-happy are just ignorant.
Zach Smith, Bloomington, IN USA

Unfortunately I feel the shoot-to-kill policy is justified now suicide bombers are a reality in this country.
Dan Bassford, Nottingham

Based on the various eyewitness reports, it appears that the police had Mr de Menezes was on the ground and that they then pumped some five bullets into the back of his head. That is not 'shoot-to-kill', that is a summary and arbitrary execution.
Ross, UK

The manner in which the man was killed in the tube has terrified me
Pamela Harries, London
I am horrified that England is now adopting a shoot-to-kill policy. The manner in which the man was killed in the tube has terrified me.
Pamela Harries, London

I am stunned by the number of people who are claiming that the shooting of Jean Charles de Menezes was justified, or even forgivable. The moment that a civilized society sinks to this level AND a high ranking police official makes a warning that more innocent people will be killed in the name of the fight against terrorism, then we are certainly no better than animals now.
Allison Rich, RI, USA

I feel for Jean Charles' family and am sure the policeman involved feels really awful about what happened. He will have to live with that decision for the rest of his life. But if it had been a terrorist running into a crowded tube station and he decided not to shoot, would he be able to live with that devastation on his conscience?
Robbie, Midlands

We are effectively at war. The police have to act the way they do to protect us. Horrible though it is, this is now a fact of life. Jean Mendezes is a poor innocent victim of this war - as were those killed in the bombings.
John Kirby, Ipswich

If a real terrorist was confronted by men with guns demanding he stop, then he would probably run into the nearest tube station, jump the barrier and make his way to a full train. How could policemen faced with this type of action do anything else?
David Newton, Darlington, England

I am more fearful of the police than terrorists
Kevin, London
The shoot-to-kill policy is not justifiable on any account. When I heard the news I hoped that they did get the right person. This has proved my worst nightmare. He is a victim of a trigger-happy police force, and all our lives are in jeopardy. I am more fearful of the police than terrorists.
Kevin, London

I feel for the victim, his family and the police officer involved. However I hope that the police continue in this same unprejudiced manner against terrorism. I know not of a police officer who would intentionally kill an innocent man.
Marcus, Shaftesbury

I believe the policemen involved had no choice but to do what they did. They are not going around randomly shooting suspicious looking individuals they happen to bump into at tube stations. It is terrible that another innocent person had to die and my thoughts go out to his family, but we have to stand together and support the police and not let the terrorists win on any level. And if it was my brother shot at Stockwell my views would still be the same.
Jackie, Stockwell, London

It is at least apparent why he was wearing a bulky jacket - being Brazilian and adapted to 30-40 degree heat, most of our summer weather is cool. I have a Floridian friend who also appears to wear unseasonable clothing in the height of summer, as it is to her a cool autumn day. London is a city of many nationalities and cultures, and policing has to take account of this.
Cel, London

I feel very sorry for the relatives who have had a member of the family taken away in these circumstances. Having a split second to decide that you may be saving hundreds of lives or killing an innocent man must a tough one, but I think I would have taken the latter option, especially in the current climate.
Stephen Baldwin, Bradford

A gang of BNP/National Front men look very similar to young plain clothes police officers
Deuan, London
A gang of BNP/National Front men look very similar to young plain clothes police officers dressed in their casual clothes and trainers. In this climate there are attacks going on by violent and misguided British men on 'foreigners'. If I saw a bunch of these 'thuggish' looking guys shouting and running after me, my survival instinct would kick in and I would be off.
Deuan, London

If a British citizen was shot here or in another country then there would be outrage and no rest until the culprits were punished. This poor man, who was going about his daily business, was panicked seeing men chasing him with guns. If the police had secured him to the ground then surely one shot to disable him would have been enough.
Sophie, London

I was in London on the occasions of both bombings and I feel much more comfortable knowing there is a shoot-to-kill policy. I feel sorry for the relatives of de Menezes, but to be honest, if he had a totally clear conscience, why was he running from armed police? If I were challenged by a policeman with a gun, I would drop to the floor and freeze!
Chris Johnson, Gibraltar

The question that we all seem to have, is why did he run? I know that I wouldn't run if the police told me to stop! Was it apparent that the pursuers were police officers? Why on a hot day and with the intention of going on the tube was he wearing a heavy coat? I feel very sorry for the police officers who had to make that split second decision. Do any of us really know how we would react?
Marie, Surrey

Running into a packed tube the day after a bomb isn't the best idea
Ryan McConnell, Belfast, NI
If Jean Charles HAD been a bomber and wasn't shot, then a lot of people could have died. He had all the symptoms of a terrorist, just not the bomb. Running into a packed tube the day after a bomb isn't the best idea.
Ryan McConnell, Belfast, NI

No alternative to such a policy in an environment where suicide bombers deliberately target the public.
Robert Jackson, London

I feel very scared for our future if this can be allowed to happen in our country. Britain has lived with terrorism for years without sinking to this level of paranoia. A man has lost his life here, another innocent victim. Of course he ran away, he was obviously terrified. If an American or British man had been killed I wonder if an apology would have been enough?
Amy, Manchester

Unfortunately, the only victors on this occasion were the terrorists who have succeeded in making everybody jumpy. The Brazilian guy was an electrician probably on his way to a job. So he had tools and wires about his person. When the officers saw this they assumed the worst and told the man to stop. And when he legged it instead they pursued him and shot him. It's an unfortunate incident, but I don't condemn the police. The very least that should happen now is for the Brazilian family to be compensated.
Chris, Birmingham

I question what this policy will achieve in the longer term
John, London
Shoot-to-kill might sound like a good idea - unless you are male, Asian and in your twenties. As a Northern Irish guy who has been stopped at Heathrow several times, I question what this policy will achieve in the longer term - short of helping to recruit more vulnerable young Muslim men into this web of hatred.
John, London

The main problem is that Jean Charles was running away from two plain-clothed police men holding a gun. He probably ran for his life, but little did he know they were police officers. I would run if I saw two men holding a gun! Police officers should be recognisable, otherwise we could never know how much to respect these orders.
K. Stephens, Bournemouth, Dorset

It's tragic that an innocent man had to die, but I would also not want those armed officers' job. They had to make a very tough, life saving decision in seconds. No one can reason with these suicide bombers that want to blow up hundreds of people including themselves!! It's the only way to save lives.
Jenny, Grays, Essex

It is scary that not only do we have to worry about terrorist bombs, but also armed policemen shooting to kill people who are running away when frightened. This is not the way to go. Can anyone tell me what this killing has achieved, and if there has been any good come out of it?
Jo Kebbell, Dorking England

The police were in plain clothes. He might well have thought they were gangsters. This incident shows that unfortunately the terrorists have already succeeded in changing our way of life. Only one month ago an incident like this would be imaginable in Israel or a violent American city but not in Central London. London citizens are not safe anymore not only from the terrorists but also from a nervous and overreacting police.
Savvas, London

They have to make split second decisions
George, Vienna, Austria
This is a terrible fallout of the evil abound in these bad times we are living in. Everyone would feel sorry that an innocent guy dies, but the poor police are doing their best and I support them 1000%. They have to make split second decisions and to stop and ask someone running from them "excuse me sir, but are you a terrorist?" does not come into play. I am sure that police officer also feels bad, but they are doing a difficult job in difficult times.
George, Vienna Austria

I wonder if all those who've so staunchly backed the police if it was their brother, son, father that had been shot? An innocent man was shot for what? Jumping a bar, carrying a rucksack and looking suspicious? Any one of us could have done the same had we been accosted by plain-clothed men in a foreign country! Wake up!! Since when did this mandate the death sentence?
Mark, FL, USA

I am a law-abiding citizen of 57 years, but I would necessarily trust, or take orders from a man yelling 'police' and toting a gun, if he was not in uniform.
Steffen M. Poulsen, Copenhagen, Denmark

From now on, when we fly from New Orleans to my husband's home in Cairo, we will not go through London. We have gone through Heathrow in the past and have seen firsthand how prejudiced some Londoners can be towards people from the Third World. I also have some questions about this incident. a) the policeman was not in uniform, so why should the man have stopped when they yelled at him, considering everything that has happened in London in the past few days? b) why was it necessary to shoot him FIVE times? c) is it possible to set off explosives by pumping somebody carrying them with bullets? if so, the policeman was more than negligent. I know there are thousands of decent policemen out there just doing their jobs. Unfortunately, there will be one less electrician in London doing his.
Romi Elnagar (Mrs. Hassan), Baton Rouge, LA USA

How many people who are critical of the action of the police, would have the courage to follow a man, thought to be a terrorist carrying a bomb, onto a tube train?
Peter May, West Sussex

The more facts I read about this incident, the more shocked I am
Dalo, Coral Gables, FL US
The more facts I read about this incident, the more shocked I am. Sir Ian Blair's statement indicating more people may be shot isn't exactly the most comforting words. I don't see much of a difference between London and Baghdad right now. The police can go around and just shoot anyone they like and answer to no one.
Dalo, Coral Gables, FL US

As an Englishman living in Brazil, I spent some six months living in the Zona Norte of Rio de Janeiro. And I know that if I had been in the same position as Jean Charles, I would have run too. Perhaps it's not how we would react in England as English but when you've lived in a violent Brazilian city you don't wait for possible gangsters/muggers to get close to you. The fact that he vaulted the gate to get into the station really hasn't helped him.
Tim Edwards, Curitiba, ParanŠ, Brazil

I certainly back the police 100%. It is sad that this gentleman had to die in this manner but the fact still remains, why did he run away from the police during such a sensitive time? What was so serious that he could not stop for the police? I think the police action was appropriate - what if this gentleman was really a suicide bomber and got on that train to set off yet another bomb killing over 50 people? The police would probably still be blamed.
Thomas, St Peter Port, Guernsey

Instead of focusing on finding someone to blame for this tragedy, why not focus on preventing another tragedy such as this from happening?
Diana, Phoenix, USA

I have sympathies with the victim's family, but two weeks ago over 50 innocent people died
Eliot Meikle, Dunbar, Scotland
I have sympathies with the victim's family, but two weeks ago over 50 innocent people died. Let's not forget that. It was very unfortunate that this lad died, but the risk of him being guilty was just too big a risk to take. The press should support the police against terrorism, not it would appear the other way around. This lad who died was another victim in the war against terrorism, unfortunate, but true. My thoughts are with the police officer and his family.
Eliot Meikle, Dunbar, Scotland

Instead of criticising those whose job it is to protect the public, we should be looking at ourselves and ask why we are not willing to do all we can to make their job easier. Unless we, the public, give them our full support, why should they bother? Innocent people will die, but I would rather a wrong decision was taken for the right reasons instead of the terrorists getting away with committing more atrocities.
Phil, Henley-on-Thames, UK

It's sad when an innocent man dies but even sadder when 52 innocent people die. I think the police acted in the right manner and in tough situations the right outcome is uncertain. Jean Charles de Menezes was Brazilian but when you live in a foreign country you need to understand the way things are done. If you are challenged by an armed man in the UK the odds are it is the police. In the circumstances, the police have to shoot to stop. We are defending a way of life.
Richard, Las Vegas

While this is nothing short of a tragic, I really feel for the police concerned as well. They had to make a decision in seconds, they had no way of knowing whether he was carrying a bomb or not and he could have detonated it without warning.
Aaron, Cardiff, UK

I back the police action 100% in this case
Mark Garth, London
I back the police action 100% in this case. As sad as it is, if the chap was innocent the fact remains that the day after four terrorists tried to massacre another group of innocent people, he ignored the challenges of three armed officers and ran straight down into the Tube and onto a train. What were they to think he was up to and what would people say if he had detonated a device and killed people? Hindsight is wonderful; it's just a pity that we don't have it at the crucial moment.
Mark Garth, London

This morning in Wandsworth I saw my first "DON'T SHOOT - I'm not Brazilian" t-shirt. A bit OTT, but perhaps Londoners should consider buying, and wearing Brazilian t-shirts as a sign of solidarity with the murdered young man.
Mike, London

At and around Gleneagles the police were more than happy to use Section 65 to stop and search all and sundry. If they thought the guy was a threat then they could have stopped him at any point. Or were they waiting for him to commit an act of terrorism, so as to more easily obtain a conviction? You gotta, gotta, gotta, try a little tenderness.
Alan Govan, Glasgow, Scotland

As an expat Brit, born in South London, I am greatly saddened by recent events. I can only imagine how that policeman feels today. He should not be blamed; he was only trying to do a difficult job in extreme circumstances. I can only pray that this madness ceases soon.
Richard Clark, Edmonton, Canada

Could Britain accept it if an innocent British man was shot by three Brazilian plain-clothed policemen in the name of terror in Rio de Janeiro?
Yusof Yahya, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Has anyone stopped to spare a thought for the officer concerned? No officer gets up in the morning with a yearning to shoot someone. The bottom line is that it is an absolute tragedy but so was last week? The last thing we need to do is resort to our usual blame culture. It's a fine line we are treading, and those that stand in judgment of others may do well to consider how they would have acted or indeed if they would have been prepared to act in order to protect the lives of others.
Neil, Nottingham

The problem with the shooting is that the police were plain-clothed
Greg, London, England

The problem with the shooting is that the police were plain-clothed. If a man flees uniformed police and jumps onto a train in the current climate, the police have little choice. But the police were not uniformed. All Mr Menezes saw was a group of men pulling guns and screaming in a Tube station. Given the events of the last few weeks, no wonder he fled.
Greg, London, England

It seems that there is no question that this man did not understand the command to stop when challenged; as his cousin confirms that he spoke English. In today's climate in London, if you act in such a manner and resist any attempts to be stopped by the police, then I am afraid that you have to face the consequences. Whilst deploring any loss of innocent life, this incident highlights the pressures the police are under and the instant decisions they have to make to defend the public.
Stuart, Amsterdam, Netherlands

If these guys are prosecuted because of their actions, I hope all armed policemen hand in their licenses. Their job will have gone from being phenomenally difficult to being impossible. As unfortunate as this man's death has been, I fully believe the police were only acting in the best interests of the public.
Gareth, Wrexham, North Wales

It is astonishing how many people here seem to be justifying shooting people just because they are running away. Since when was jumping a barrier a capital offence? Of course the police have a very difficult job but it is possible that they got this wrong and as a result a man died. We cannot excuse everything the police do just because of the present situation. Otherwise we may as well live in a police state.
Robert Pugsley, Birstall, UK

It is so easy for armchair critics to offer wise advice after the event. There should be no witch hunt or scapegoating of the police. I hope they will robustly defend their actions and not be demoralised to the point of inefficiency as is happening to the army as a result of prosecutions for live/death decisions taken in stressed conditions.
David, Bristol

The police responded appropriately in difficult circumstances to protect the public
Andrew, Chiswick, London
This death is sad and we feel for his family, however, anybody who runs from the police into a Tube station in the current environment should expect a deadly response. The police responded appropriately in difficult circumstances to protect the public.
Andrew, Chiswick, London

I don't see why the police were so perfectly content to let the man enter and ride a bus! And then got so very excited when he went towards a Tube station? And why start challenging him from a distance? Why not slowly surround and pounce? It's not as if they only just saw him! They'd been following him since the house.
Paul Kopal, Colchester, England

It is a disgrace that people are criticising the police. They are dealing with a national emergency and preventing the loss of further lives. If anyone carrying a bag on the Tube is running from the police and ignores their orders to stop then they ought to be shot. The lives of hundreds of innocent civilians must be paramount.
Simon, Cardiff, Wales

Every incident on and after 7/7 has been accompanied by descriptions of panic and people running away from what they thought might be bombs, bombers or armed terrorists. If the police officers had been uniformed it would be a different matter, but how can anyone say it is not an instinctive reaction to run from several men brandishing guns and shouting, especially in the current climate? How can the police themselves fail to understand this? Or do they just see it as 'collateral damage'?
Martin Barlow, St Asaph, UK

After reading the comments about the Stockwell Tube shooting, I completely agree with the actions taken by the British police and would support the same action if it were taken in Australia. The suggested use of an electrical stun gun may have triggered any explosive and the handcuffing of a fanatic, possibly carrying a bomb, would be fraught with danger. It is a war we're fighting and the enemy is not playing by any rules of engagement. Support your police, they are doing it for you.
Lindsay Bennett, Robina, Australia

Another innocent person has died
Sam, Manchester, England
Would it not be better if officers were armed with something less deadly, perhaps some kind of tranquiliser gun? Surely modern technology can come up with something. I fully understand the threat we are facing, and the decision to shoot was made without much time or evidence, because the risk to the public was so great. However, another innocent person has died.
Sam, Manchester, England

The police had no option, the man could have been a suicide bomber. They could not afford to take chances with the lives of innocent people at stake. He should have obeyed the police when challenged.
Mrs I.E. Brown

What if this man did not understand English, and all he saw was 3 normally dressed large built men screaming, looking aggressive and running after him in a tube station? Put yourself in his position.
Hiroki, UK

While thoughts must be with the family of the man who was shot, I also feel for the policeman who had to make the decision to shoot, and pray that he will not be made a scapegoat. He did what he felt was right at the time given the information available to him and only seconds to weigh up the risks and to react accordingly.
Pat Hughes, Felixstowe, UK

It is important to wait for the full facts to emerge. However so far it seems very likely that in these particular circumstances and because of the man's behaviour the police genuinely believed he posed a potential threat to themselves and other members of the public.
Roger Taylor, Harrogate, UK

The police cannot afford to take chances
Jennifer Harvey, UK
With innocent lives at risk, the police cannot afford to take chances with suspicious people who run away when challenged. It's easy with hindsight to accuse them of being too hasty, but haste is unavoidable when you might have a suicide bomber among dozens of people on a tube train. There's no time to interview the suspect - there's just action. If people want someone to blame for this, blame the terrorists who have made such actions necessary.
Jennifer Harvey, UK

Unfortunately, this will prove to be an 'own goal', because it will alienate the Muslim communities whose co-operation is vital in tracking down the real bombers.
Trevor, Worthing, UK

It's shocking to hear about something like this happening in London. I'm not sure it would even happen where I come from (the United States) The logical thing to do once they had him pinned down would to have handcuffed him, not shoot him five times.
Kate, Berkeley, USA

A situation like this demands firm and decisive action. It sends a message to all who are on the fringe to keep clear and for those real terrorists that there is no mercy. Inevitably, there will be mistakes but in a war this is the result of a fanatic minority trying to impose their will on all others.
Peter Nurse, (English), France

Unfortunate but understandable response of the police given the circumstances.
Professor Arun Khanna, Indianapolis, USA

If the man was fleeing, ignoring warnings and was wearing a bulky garment that could have contained explosives then I am not surprised police opened fire and support them fully in this decision. The fact that it does not seem that the person was involved in terrorism should not in any way deter the police from making such a decision quickly and logically when it is necessary. This will become even more complex when the winter comes and we all wear baggy coats.
Christopher Thomas, Weston super Mare, UK

It is very sad that an innocent man was shot in the head. Though, I do wonder why he ran from the police and why he was dressed the way he was. The police acted in the public's interest.
Margaret Nash, Marlow, Bucks

He had a choice - he could have stopped. Jumping over barriers to get away is not normal behaviour - sorry. I thank the police for protecting the general public from what could have been a very serious incident. If we don't let the police do their job we may all live to regret it.
Jacqueline, Surrey, UK

There are a million and one reasons why the man may have run away. He may not have heard the police call, he may not have understood it, he may have heard the call and assumed it was directed at someone else. He may have thought there was an incident under way (and like all normal people) just wanted to get away from it. Given the state of dress and appearance of the police (in scruffy plain clothes) the man may well have heard the call and thought he was about to be mugged!
T. Hedley, Sheffield, UK

A shooting like this - and the manner in which it was carried out - is only justifiable in a situation of the utmost certainty. I find it hard to accept that an innocent young man has lost his life in such a terrifying manner. In addition, the police have hamstrung themselves at the first opportunity. Because they will be wary of making another such blunder, it is likely that innocent people will die when police hesitate to act on someone who really is a menace.
Jay, London UK

He was shot five times, why could they not have wounded him instead. Trigger happy police is not what's needed now.
Larry Mamtora, London, UK

Having pinned the man down and cleared the immediate vicinity, why not establish the threat he poses before pumping him with lead. It goes against the nature of British police and will spark further distrust from the Muslim community, which will not help the problem.
Tom, Ottawa, Canada




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