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After the publication of the official inquiry into police tactics in the summer riots by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Police Constabulary, the Police Minister, Nick Herbert, has sought to play down fears over new recommendations that police should be able to shoot arsonists with live ammunition in any future riots*, by saying dead rioters would be allowed to appeal against any decision of the police to kill them.

Mr Herbert explained that although police would have the legal power to shoot suspected arsonists who seriously endangered life by setting fire to shops with occupied flats, anyone subsequently killed by the police would be able to seek address to their lack of life through the normal police complaint procedures:

I can guarantee that any innocent person shot dead during the course of police actions will receive all the help they need to prove their innocence. Although they’d need to have enough money to pursue the case, obviously, because we’ve already decided to stop legal aid for the poor.**

The report outlines several scenarios in which lethal force could be used, including when cars are being driven directly at officers, or anywhere near them and when firearms are directed at police officers, or anything resembling a firearm, like a mobile phone or umbrella. It adds that arson attacks on commercial buildings linked to residential homes would also constitute a threat to life and justify the use of lethal force, so anyone lighting up a cigarette in the vicinity of a building, for example, should be careful because they are now liable to be shot dead by any passing police officer.

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*The above article is satire. However, the report by the HMIC really does include powers for police to use live ammunition against rioters if police think their actions may be endangering life.

**The government has also announced it is cutting legal aid.

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