UK Police Shootings, Though Rare, Reach 12-Year High

The use of deadly force by English officers is still exceedingly rare compared with the U.S., but the number of fatal shootings by cops ticked up to six last year.

Fatal police shootings in England and Wales have hit a 12-year high, reports the Independent. The Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) said there were six fatal police shootings in the 12 months ending in March, the highest annual figure since the commission began tracking the numbers in 2004-05. There were just three fatal police shootings in 2015-16. (Police in the U.K. use deadly force at a small fraction of the rate in the U.S., where officers sho0t and kill about 1,000 people annually.) Three of the U.K. shootings in 2016-17 are subject to ongoing independent investigations and three are complete.

One of them, the police shooting of Westminster attacker Khalid Masood, was terror-related. The other victims included a 24-year-old man in Northumbria who was armed with a handgun. All six casualties were men between the ages of 24 and 48. Dame Anne Owers, chair of the IPCC, said, “The deaths happened across six forces, and one was terrorism-related.  It is important that each incident is thoroughly and independently investigated, to provide public reassurance.” She noted that “the great majority” of firearms uses by UK officers are found to be valid. Some observers cite increased knife and gun crime in the U.K., where firearms are closely controlled.