Scotland politics

SNP deputy leader Stewart Hosie backs police 'shoot-to-kill' policy

Police Scotland firearms officers Image copyright Police scotland

The deputy leader of the SNP has backed the right of the police to "shoot-to-kill" in the event of a terror attack.

Stewart Hosie said he would trust police officers to take the "necessary action" if someone was posing a "real and immediate risk" to life.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said on Monday he was "not happy" with police operating a shoot-to-kill policy.

He later clarified that he supported any "strictly necessary force" to protect the UK.

Mr Hosie told BBC Scotland he "would not take the Jeremy Corbyn line on this".

He was speaking as it emerged that two people had died and seven others were arrested when armed police raided a flat in the north Paris suburb of Saint Denis in an operation linked to Friday's terror attacks in the French capital that left 129 people dead.

'Suicide belt'

Mr Hosie told the Good Morning Scotland programme: "If a terrorist runs down Sauchiehall Street, God forbid, or Whitehall with a Kalashnikov and a police officer has a split-second decision to make, then the choice in terms of public safety is very clear.

"I think if someone is posing a real and immediate risk to the lives of many hundreds or thousands of people then of course one has to trust the police to take the necessary action."

He added: "We have seen the news reports from Saint Denis this morning. These people won't be arrested. One of the people who was subject to the police investigations this morning blew herself up with a suicide belt apparently.

"There is no negotiating with someone who has a suicide belt strapped to them, who is prepared to fire hundreds of rounds at civilians with a machine gun.

"Split second decisions require to be made and we all hope they are the right ones but I certainly would trust the police in those circumstances."

Image caption Mr Hosie said any military action in Syria would need to be approved by the UN
Image copyright AP
Image caption A female suspect blew herself up with a suicide vest when armed police raided a flat in the Saint Denis suburb of Paris

Prime Minister David Cameron has said the police should be allowed to kill a terrorist if it allowed lives to be saved.

But Callum Steele of the Scottish Police Federation, which represents rank-and-file officers, said such talk was "particularly unhelpful" as it "raises tensions and brings additional and unnecessary emotion into what is by any measure a difficult topic."

Mr Steele said the purpose of Police Scotland's firearms officers was to "identify and negate any threat".

But he added: "Fewer than 2% of the police service in Scotland is routinely armed. They are highly skilled, highly trained and we should allow them to use their professional judgement without interference from politicians."

The prime minister has said he hopes to convince the UK parliament that it was now necessary to bomb Islamic State militants in Syria as well as in Iraq - a position that has been opposed by the SNP.

'International agreement'

Mr Hosie said the problem in Syria was "not a lack of people bombing", and added: "While no one would ever rule out military action as part of a long-term solution, that in and of itself isn't what is required.

"We need a plan for Syria, we need a proper plan for Iraq, we also need international agreement on the way forward and what we can't have is a situation, which we have seen in the past, where people drop lots of bombs, they think they have won the war and then we simply create another vacuum which continues to be filled by people like ISIS."

Mr Hosie also said there was a "very, very strong argument" for properly backing and supporting the Kurdish Peshmerga forces, who he said were "taking the fight to ISIS and winning back villages and towns".

And he said there was a "perfectly legitimate question" about the use of drones to kill UK citizens in other countries, such as Mohammed Emwazi - known as Jihadi John - who is thought to have been killed in a targeted drone strike in Syria last week.

Mr Hosie added: "When we are talking about intelligence-led, targeted operations like that, which the prime minister did say he had received legal advice on, then we will take that on face value.

"Nevertheless, the debate over that goes on, as it should, because if we cancel debate we let the terrorists win because that in a sense is what they want."