The Daily Telegraph
The problem of countering terrorists without losing the democratic freedoms that they attack
SIR – I hope that the cost of defending our hard-won democratic freedoms and laws will not be their loss. Patrick Kelly Chippenham, Wiltshire SIR – Your front-page photograph yesterday starkly contrasted the differing values of Western democracy and Islamist terrorism.
Paramedics were shown conducting resuscitation on the man who had just murdered at least three innocent fellow human beings. It must have been tempting to let him bleed to death. T A Harrison FRCS Child Okeford, Dorset SIR – I am beginning to run out of “other cheeks” to turn. Colin Cummings Yelvertoft, Northamptonshire SIR – The aim of terrorist attacks of the kind we saw on Wednesday is to gain notoriety, create fear, disrupt normal activities and obtain maximum publicity.
The response is, in part, to continue to work normally and minimise publicity. Why, then, did the BBC and other media bodies feel it necessary to provide as much coverage as they could by remaining on location and sending newscasters to report on the event many hours after it had finished?
This is exactly what those involved in such atrocities want. Peter Preston Ivybridge, Devon SIR – The BBC’s 10 o’clock news contained no other news of any kind but the incident in Westminster.
Were there no other news stories in the world on Wednesday? P A Copland London SW11 SIR – Counting the attacker among the number of those killed is disrespectful.
The victims had no choice in the matter; he did. Please do not count him with those who died at his hands. Rev Dr David McHardy Stoke-on-Trent, Staffordshire SIR – My heart sank upon hearing the news of a terror attack in Westminster. I feared the perpetrators would be Muslims.
It is time for the vast silent majority of Muslims to stand up and speak up against heinous atrocities committed under the rubric of Islam – a beautiful religion that enjoins its faithful to espouse compassion, mercy, mutual respect, peace, justice and harmony.
Those who commit such an evil thing do not represent Islam. They are intent on sowing the seeds of fear, anxiety and suspicion among us and tearing communities apart. We should unite and strengthen our human bond and never allow them to succeed. Dr Munjed Farid Al Qutob London NW2 SIR – We condemn Wednesday’s terrorist attack outside the British Parliament.
Terrorism is a threat to the whole world. Please God that efforts will increase to put an end to terrorism in all its forms. Dr Sami El Mushtawi Islamic Cultural Centre Madrid, Spain SIR – Wednesday’s events in London were shocking but not unexpected.
I lived in London during the Seventies and Eighties, and the public had to be vigilant then as they are now. There was the IRA to think about. I worked in Woburn Place, where a bus was later bombed as part of the attacks on July 7 2005.
We have been through two world wars and several other conflicts since. We have Parliament to serve as an example to the world. We are a seat of democracy, and no terrorist or other militant organisation will ever take that away from us. Do not be afraid. Draw strength from the communities that you live in. Nobody is alone in this situation. Nottingham SIR – If I am ever caught up in a terrorist attack I hope that I will be tended to by someone as courageous as Tobias Ellwood, the Conservative MP, and not someone who thinks it more appropriate to film me and upload the event to social media. Dr Christine Bennetts Crediton, Devon SIR – How awe-inspiring of Tobias Elwood to go immediately to the aid of Pc Keith Palmer.
Fifteen years ago, a friend and I thought we should get first aid certification. We were put off by the fee and the 40-mile drive to the nearest point of delivery.
I am now inspired to make a greater effort. Joy Knight Scone, Perthshire SIR – I set up the team of visitor assistants who, since 2005, have stood alongside the police officers outside the Palace of Westminster to welcome people of all nations to our Parliament.
From the very first day, those officers, armed and unarmed alike, made us welcome, looked after us, worked with us, relaxed with us, laughed with us, enjoyed a beer with us, and got rained, hailed and snowed on with us. It was a privilege to know them.
On Wednesday, as events unfolded, members of the team past and present communicated with each other throughout the day, many of them locked down on the estate. The spontaneous thought of those of us scattered throughout the country who no longer work at Parliament was that we wished we could be there, to stand alongside our police colleagues again. It left us feeling hollow, useless and sad that we could not.
Behind those police uniforms are ordinary people; people like Keith Palmer. We are thinking of them all today as they once more do the extraordinary and carry on carrying on. Victor Launert Matlock Bath, Derbyshire SIR – May I suggest Pc Keith Palmer GC? David Bacon Rotherham, South Yorkshire SIR – Is there any possibility of a break with tradition in the treatment of the firearms officer who brought this sad event to a rapid conclusion?
The usual format in these circumstances is for the officer to spend months – if not years – under suspension and inquiry.
Could this officer not be recognised for his swift and correct action in preventing the event from escalating? I look forward to the announcement of an award. John Harwood Hope Valley, Derbyshire SIR – A lone terrorist armed with a knife attacked the Palace of Westminster, killing four people and injuring about 40 more with his vehicle.
It could have been worse. It could have conceivably been a suicide bomber driving a car or lorry packed with high explosive, which would not only have damaged irreparably the fabric of the Palace, but also killed and injured hundreds of innocent people.
While a balanced approach to our security is desirable, I trust that this possibility will be taken into account in future, and steps taken to counter it as far as is possible. Lt Col J S Landau (retd) Cheltenham, Gloucestershire SIR – I feel deeply sorry for all those killed and injured in the vile attack at Westminster, and for their families and friends.
Apparently Pc Keith Palmer was unarmed, and the Carriage Gates are often left slightly ajar because of the frequent passage of traffic.
This is concerning. Any objective risk assessment would have concluded that all policemen involved in protecting the Houses of Parliament and operating within the precincts should be armed – particularly those at the primary entrance.
Moreover, it would not have been difficult to design the entrance gates to have solenoid locking and electrical operation that can be controlled from a place of safety.
It might also be appropriate to have two gates analogous to an air-lock, with one open and one closed to allow the secure passage of vehicles – and both, of course, closed when passage is not required.
I do not think our security experts are as expert as they are sometimes portrayed. G E Green HM Principal Inspector of Health and Safety (retd) Chester SIR – The terrible events in Westminster have once again raised the question of routine arming of the police. Scotland Yard will carry out a review of security arrangements to identify any failings.
However, it is vital that we have a considered debate over arming all of our police officers and not a knee-jerk reaction. Changing the fundamental way that we police this country should not be forced upon us by extremists.
This terrible incident has also highlighted the damage of unprecedented cuts to police budgets. It is these cuts, resulting in fewer officers on our streets, that are putting the safety of the police at most risk. Bob Milton Ex-Commander, Metropolitan Police Caterham, Surrey SIR – I have always been an advocate of armed police in Britain. The appalling act of terrorism at Westminster, and the murder of an unarmed policeman, have strengthened my feelings.
Given the threats, why should we still have one of the few unarmed forces in the world? Charles James Bognor Regis, West Sussex SIR – Following the attacks, it has been suggested that all policemen should be armed. This fails to recognise how many policemen and bystanders would be endangered by the crossfire from different directions. Any of the bullets fired at the terrorist could well go through him – killing people in the crowded street beyond.
In the US, guns have become a threat to the guilty and innocent alike. C N Westerman Brynna, Glamorgan SIR – Following the tragic events in London, perhaps it is time to consider making our capital city car-free.
Parking revenue would be lost by inner-city councils, but this pales into insignificance when compared with the loss of human life and structural damage avoided.
After obtaining security passes, taxis, contractors and delivery vehicles could continue to operate, along with park-and-ride facilities for commuters. Roberta Burton Bournemouth, Dorset SIR – The Prime Minister states that “attacks on our democracy are doomed to failure”.
If my memory serves me correctly, Tony Blair rewarded such attacks by the IRA with ministerial posts and pardons for murderers. IGM Pardoe Kenilworth, Warwickshire SIR – This week, the media gave extensive coverage to the deaths of two men. Both were responsible for atrocious acts of violence – the indiscriminate and pitiless killing, maiming or distressing of men, women and children.
The difference between the two is that one swiftly received punishment and died recognised for what he was: a terrorist. The other escaped justice and was allowed the luxury of dying in bed, attended by family members. It seems very strange, does it not? Susan Gow Weymouth, Dorset SIR – With a “terrorist” having committed murder in the grounds of Parliament, I can’t help being confused about the praise for the late Martin McGuinness, given that Irish republican terrorists murdered Airey Neave in the grounds of Parliament. Serena Jackson Warminster, Wiltshire SIR – The Christian virtue of forgiveness is hard to summon in the face of a terrorist atrocity like the one we have witnessed in Westminster.
However, forgiveness did produce peace in Northern Ireland, where Martin McGuinness was a ringleader of murder and bombing.
Hatred of depraved Islamist murderers will achieve nothing, so we must put aside our initial emotional reaction and behave as our Prime Minister suggests – with defiance, resolution and vigilance. Brian Thornton Malvern, Worcestershire