Police who carry out “shoot to kill” operations against terrorists on the streets of London would have the full support of Sadiq Khan, the Labour mayoral hopeful said as he vowed to tackle the “cancer” of Islamic extremism.
He vowed to carry out a review of London’s ability to cope with a Paris-style terrorist rampage on his first day in office and also promised to focus on community policing which can provide vital intelligence about would-be bombers.
“I will be the British Muslim who takes the fight to the extremists,” the Tooting MP declared as the official campaign began ahead of the May 5 vote. That would mean backing police “to do what is necessary during terrorist attacks” and tackling the “underlying conditions that allow extremism and radicalisation to take root”.
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn caused controversy when he expressed unease about the possibility of police operating a “shoot to kill” policy in the UK in comments made in the wake of the Paris atrocity in November.
But in a speech in central London Mr Khan said: “I am determined to do what is necessary to keep Londoners safe. I want London to know that I will give my full backing to our armed officers to take the decisions necessary to keep us safe. No armed police officer ever wants to consider shooting with the intention or likelihood of killing, and that’s how it should be. But our officers will know that if they are required to shoot to kill to keep Londoners safe during a terrorist attack, I will have their back.”
Mr Khan promised action to reduce “social segregation” in the capital and for the Metropolitan Police to focus on community policing which is “crucial for securing the information that helps us root out extremism and radicalisation”. Mr Khan leads his rival Tory Zac Goldsmith by six points, according to a poll by ComRes for ITV News London and LBC.