17 comments on “Damned if You Do, Damned if You Don’t

  1. As a layperson I really have no problem with what went on yesterday, at the very least it established that whatever protocols and procedures have been put in place for dealing with a suspected terror attack work, and of course there are plenty of things to be learned and it might well save money on future training exercises but… please, I just want one person from the agencies involved to come forward and admit to thinking, as I did when I immediately read about the ‘smoking bag’ that it was in all likelihood some pillock having a crafty ciggy. There must’ve been someone who suggested that scenario?

    • The problem you have in making assumptions that it was only a cigarette is this.
      The emergency services HAVE to right all the time……. Your terrorist only has to be lucky once….. Would you like to be a injured or dead part of that luck once…. No thank you

  2. Even though I appreciate how scared the passengers must’ve been and how scared I would be if I’d been pulled from a bus by armed police, I agree with everything you said. Yesterday was a very good example of how the system can work properly – vigilant public, quick response, good media management – and I’m relieved services responded efficiently. Thank you to everyone involved yesterday and I hope it won’t stop people being vigilant in the future for fear of looking stupid.

  3. You’re making the classic false dichotomy error here. It isn’t a straight choice between massive, all-out operation and do absolutely nothing. There are plenty of shades of grey in between that. For example, the bus driver could have been instructed to pull off the motorway to a safe place so that it could be investigated without closing the M6T.

    What’s happened here is that the police have shown any potential activist exactly how to cause massive disruption to the Olympics without even having to do anything illegal. Just turn up at Stratford station with an e-fag in your pocket and let people’s paranoia do the rest.

    • Agreed. This was a gross over reaction by Staffs police based on the testimony of one person. Now all the nutters out there know how to cause maximum disruption. I would hope that Police forces across the UK have learnt a valuable lesson from this and that we don’t have similar incidents like this during the Olympics.

      What is also scary is how much this country is beginning to respond like the US when it comes to terrorism, armed officers pointing guns at passengers and forcing them to sit apart in silence. I’m surprised they didn’t go the whole way and put bags over their heads and tie their hands up with cable ties.

  4. As a member of the public I am amazed at the speed with which the information was received, analysed, decisions made and an incredibly complex plan put into place.

    Well done to all our emergency services for their dedication and professionalism.

  5. You can say what you want, it was overkill. I would not like to be anywhere near you if a bag started smoking, instead of stopping a potential fire you would be hanging around for an hour or so waiting for a decontamination tent and numerous armed police. God help us all with apologists like you around.

  6. Dont worry when G4S takes over shortly they won’t attend unless you have a valid credit card and give them your 16 digit number.

  7. “Could you really, honestly say the emergency services over-reacted ? I, for one, would rather a few hundred people were inconvenienced for a few hours, hundreds of times a year, than one person lost their lives because of our complacency. And complacency is one of the terrorists strongest weapons – the IRA used to say “We only have to be lucky once, you have to be lucky every time”. And they were right !”

    We always used to say, of the IRA, that if we went overboard with security measures and stopped living life as normal , then the terrorists would have won.

    It appears they have. They can now cause maximum disruption without risking themselves.

    But since you like quotations, here’s one for you:

    “Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety”

  8. Some of the posters here are blissfully ignorant of the fight against terror. An overreaction, which this wasn’t, is unfortunate. An underreaction is unforgiveable.

    As for the theory that cuts aren’t biting… We are only in the early stages, we have 2 more years of cuts to go. Firearms officers, who responded to this incident, will remain largely untouched as most forces already operate the minimum number allowed by the Home Office.

    Do you know that almost every officer in the UK has had a leave embargo for 2 months this summer, as we are already too short to cope with the Olympic duties. So when you are off on holiday with your kids, or travelling to the Olympics, spare a thought for the officers on 12hr shifts plus travelling, who will overreact to every incident around you, for your safety.

  9. Some great comments here. Particularly Mark’s, being spot on about the grey area. Next time we should send a single crewed officer with a fire extinguisher in the boot of their car next time.

    When the coach explodes they can request an extra fire extinguisher, obviously.

    At least then we’ll be able to sleep soundly in the knowledge that we haven’t inconvenienced anyone and that we haven’t let the terrorists win.

    • So remind us Charlie Uniform, when exactly was the last time the police did this kind of media attention seeking red-alert exercise and got it right? Pulled us all back from the brink of terrorist extinction with only seconds remaining on the clock.

      And how would one policeman with a fire extinguisher being any more ridiculous than what actually occurred? They hardly took the guy off the coach with the element of surprise did they.

      This entire episode was orchestrated by senior management purely to appease their political masters so the world can see how effective the UK responds to terrorist attacks when the Olympics kick off.

  10. When I was in “The Job” I said on an almost daily basis ……. “We are damned when we do and damned when we dont”

  11. This wasn’t an exercise, it was a highly efficient reaction to an unfolding situation. What do you expect, Jack Bauer abseiling on to the roof?

    This wasn’t an overreaction, or an orchestration. You have no idea how much this cost, money the emergency services don’t have, or what the fallout was, in other more routine, but equally important incidents that had to go on the back burner.

    As for the comment …….’when exactly was the last time the police did this kind of media attention seeking red-alert exercise and got it right? Pulled us all back from the brink of terrorist extinction with only seconds remaining on the clock’…… British Intelligence services and the UK police are regularly making arrests of terror suspects, and securing convictions…who knows how close they were to committing an outrage. Life isn’t a movie.

  12. Plenty of armchair criticism. Only one suggestion – that the coach was driven somewhere safer… but whatif the bomb went off as the brave policeman, or the brave coach driver, drove it down a lane…? Let’s think of how the tabloid headlines would read… ‘Copper Commandered Death Coach’ ‘Terrified Passengers Plead with Death Coach Driver’ ‘Terror Scores Olympic Gold’ ‘Murder on the Motorway. Police were warned.’

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