Norman Tebbit urges death penalty for police killers debate

Lord Tebbit Lord Tebbit said arguments against capital punishment for murder "have always been thin"

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Bringing back the death penalty for those who kill police officers should be considered, Conservative peer Lord Tebbit has said.

He said he was reluctant to see the routine arming of police officers, but the "deterrent effect of the shadow of the gallows" should be reconsidered.

It follows the fatal shooting of two police officers in Greater Manchester.

Lord Tebbit has long supported a return of the death penalty in certain circumstances.

As an MP he voted a number of times to bring back capital punishment for murderers, including those who kill police officers.

'Violent criminals'

Writing on The Daily Telegraph website, he said: "The murder of two unarmed women police officers is bound to reignite the debate over whether our police officers should be armed as a matter of routine and whether there should be a return to capital punishment for limited categories of murder, such as that of a police officer, or more generally."

Yvette Cooper: "I think it would be a really sad day if we lost that tradition of unarmed British policing'

The former chairman of the Conservative Party rejected calls for the arming of police because it would "widen the gap which has grown between the police and the public in recent years".

But, he said, there had been "far too many killings" recently where it was impossible not to wonder if the threat of an "early dawn walk to the gallows" would have changed the actions of the perpetrator.

"The hard fact is, as violent criminals know perfectly well, a credible threat that a man will lose his life unless he complies with a demand usually results in obedience."

Lord Tebbit said concerns that such a penalty would lead to miscarriages of justice - with the innocent executed - would be mitigated by the care juries would take deliberating when they knew a person's life was at stake.

He said: "I have kept track year by year since the death penalty was suspended, then abolished, of the number of people who have been killed by persons previously convicted of homicide.

"It has averaged three people a year. About 150 people killed because their killers have been freed to kill again.

"Would our courts have sentenced to death three innocent people a year, year in year out? I doubt it.

"I think it is time we thought again about the deterrent effect of the shadow of the gallows."


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  • rate this

    Comment number 775.

    About arming the police, as this was a routine call, how would it have made a difference if they were armed. Would we expect every officer to attend every call with guns drawn and ready. I don't think so. This was a calculated ambush.

  • rate this

    Comment number 774.

    Yes. I feel some crimes are so heinously wicked and so violently pre-mediated that a strong message is needed. Some criminals are beyond help why keep them comfortable in prison atour expense. Such individuals
    need to be taken out of our society. An eye for and eye etc......

  • Comment number 773.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this

    Comment number 772. pls sign and get the debate going... something needs to be done and stop wrapping these criminals in cotton wool.

  • rate this

    Comment number 771.

    Bring back the gallows. Convicted murderers should be swung by the rope, and not just for killing police officers but any decent and normal human being. If it is in cold blood, they should pay for their crimes. An eye for an eye in my opinion.The chances of incorrect conviction are much lower these days thanks to forensics etc. Why should some our tax money go to keeping these people in prison?

  • rate this

    Comment number 770.

    We should not even bother with commenting as NO Government will hang or inject any of these people because it would damage their POLITICAL CAREERS now you know what they REALLY CARE ABOUT LOL!!!!

  • rate this

    Comment number 769.

    I too am in favour of the Death Penalty for murder. If someone can take the life of another and is able to carry on living in a prison with 3 square meals a day, clean clothes, clean bedding, TVs then there is something completely wrong with our punishment system, the person who was murdered never got that luxury.

  • rate this

    Comment number 768.

    It's absolutely ridiculous, surely more effort/resources or whatever he thinks can be put in place to punish people that do these awful things, could be used to prevent it happening in the first place! I think the focus is right off target.

  • rate this

    Comment number 767.

    Do we want to protect society or do we want revenge?

    Whatever we do after a crime is committed, it will not undo that crime.

  • rate this

    Comment number 766.

    How we punish both serious and less serious crimes; the death penalty, imprisonment, caning, fines etc should be debated and decided here in the UK by the government in London, not dictated by unelected commissioners in Brussels.

  • rate this

    Comment number 765.

    I am pleased to hear the opinion of Lord Tebbit and I fully agree. When this comes up in conversation I have always argued that the death penalty would prevent a murderer from serving a sentence, only to be released to kill again, which has happened several times. I regret it has taken such a tragic event to fuel this debate. Bring back capital punishment and save innocent lives.

  • rate this

    Comment number 764.

    As for comments about police being armed; many here went to the Olympics/Paralympics. The police were very heavily armed. In circumstances where there is a higher risk, police officers should be trained and armed. The biggest question is, why was the alleged perpetrator out on bail? Who was the judge or magistrate? Have they resigned or been sacked?

  • rate this

    Comment number 763.

    Anyone in favour of the death penalty needs to seriously consider their position.

    Would you pull the trigger on this criminal? Would you have what it takes to kill him yourself? Would you ignore his pleas for mercy and take his life in a cold, long planned, calculated act and watch him die?

    We're civilised becase we think such behaviour is abhorrent in individuals. No exceptions.

  • rate this

    Comment number 762.

    747. "you either give guns to the police, so they can shoot back or re-instate the death penalty"

    There is a third option, which is to deploy armed officers only when the circumstances demand it - i.e. when gunfire is expected. Which IIRC is what we already do. Simply arming *every* police officer will lead to more civilian deaths and it is simply not worth that.

  • rate this

    Comment number 761.


    Noone deserves to die, killing is always wrong. Bring back the death penalty for thiese thugs. Hang them
    Agree with the first part, not the second

  • rate this

    Comment number 760.

    Another case of someone having good intentions (as we all do), with unintended consequences. The vast majority of people do not need to be told that ending someone's life is wrong. Giving the State the power to terminate someone's life contradicts this universal moral that we hold dear. And why does Tebbit specifically identify police officers for this crime? That is just discriminatory law.

  • rate this

    Comment number 759.


    Whilst the death penalty isn't a perfect solution, in this case i think it would be just.

    we don't know that, there's been no trial, no one has been convicted of anything, going round wanting to hand out death sentences without a trial doesn't really make a good case for the death penalty

  • rate this

    Comment number 758.


    Comment number 746.
    3 Minutes ago

    RIP guardian angles! Noone deserves to die, killing is always wrong. Bring back the death penalty for thiese thugs. Hang them.
    Says more about the reasons not to have the death penalty than I could.

  • rate this

    Comment number 757.

    Most people don't want to die but once you're dead, you're dead. You have to wonder how much someone who doesn't value others' lives values their own. Therefore I think a life sentence in solitary for murderers is far more effective as a punishment to them and a deterrent to others.

  • rate this

    Comment number 756.

    Whilst my sympathies go out to the family of those girls we cannot have the death penalty for the killing of Police and not for the killing of the general public. Personally I dont agree with the death penalty but we do deperately need harsher prisons and sentencing, with no interference from European courts or mindless MPs like Ken Clarke. Prison must be harsh and not a holiday camp.


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