Is the Death Penalty for Police Killers Fair?


Following the tragic and shocking murders of two policewomen in Greater Manchester – Fiona Bone and Nicola Hughes – that old debate of whether capital punishment should be brought back has been reignited for the murder of police personnel. Aside from a small number of sick people who decided to pay tribute to the killer through social media sites, the vast majority of the population of the country were shocked to the core when this terrible news reached their ears.

Police personnel up and down the country are responsible for carrying out duties which appear to be becoming more and more dangerous. Further, they are doing so without any firearms, and this is automatically a handicap for them when they are unlucky enough to encounter criminals of a similar ilk to Dale Cregan – who has been accused of the murders of the two policewomen. 

Police chiefs remain adamant that they want the police forces of the United Kingdom to remain predominately unarmed. They will often state that this is one of the main reasons why the number of firearms on our streets has remained much lower than in other countries (e.g., the United States of America) and point out that if all police personnel were to be equipped with a firearm, this would trickle down into the criminal world and they would look to fight fire with fire, so to speak. Others believe that the police forces of the UK are merely looking to maintain an outdated tradition which no longer has a place in our modern society.

Whatever your opinion on this, however, we can never know whether or not either Fiona Bone or Nicola Hughes would have been able to defend themselves sufficiently against Cregan and actually save their own lives.

As an immediate response to these shocking murders, many politicians called for fresh debates into the possibility of bringing back the death penalty for anybody convicted of murdering police personnel. Foremost amongst these was Lord Tebbit of Chingford, who said that he has kept a close eye on how the rates for murder have continued to increase ever since capital punishment was officially abolished in this country back in 1969. He went on to stress that the current law did not provide the necessary deterrent to prevent a criminal from murdering a member of the police in the first instance. Lord Tebbit believes that the death penalty for such crimes would be far more of a deterrent in the future. 

As things settle down following these tragic murders, we may well start to hear opinions from other people who fail to understand why only the police should be afforded with this level of criminal punishment. They may well argue that the life of a person who works for the police should not be set above the lives of the general public in which they serve. Moreover, it must be remembered that police personnel fully understand the risks of the job which they are paid to undertake; can anyone honestly say the murder of a member of the police should be punished more harshly than if a hardened criminal broke into the home of an innocent and frail 93-year-old pensioner and murdered her in an effort to get at saleable goods? 

At the end of the day, we must make sure that we never depart from the fact that every single life is worth as much as the next. Any murder is wrong and all murderers should be treated in exactly the same way as other people convicted of the crime. Whilst we have so much respect for the police and the exceptionally difficult work they do, let us not become elitist with criminal law sanctions and try to make out that the life of a person working for the police is set any higher than the rest of us.