As police defend bailing Dale Cregan, Bradford Wpc widower demands routine arming

Paul Beshenivsky, and below, WPC Sharon Beshenivsky
Paul Beshenivsky, and below, WPC Sharon Beshenivsky
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THE widower of murdered Bradford police constable Sharon Beshenivsky has called for the routine arming of officers.

Paul Beshenivsky said the deaths of two female police officers in Greater Manchester should “open the public’s eyes”.

WPC Sharon Beshenivsky

WPC Sharon Beshenivsky

He said: “You wouldn’t think it’d happen again, but it has.”

He added: “I think policing, as regarding going to scenes of crimes, should be monitored better, and I think police, in honesty, should be armed, walking into situations that they’re not totally aware of. You can’t have armed response at every situation, but I think, as an officer being armed, walk into a situation, feeling more comfortable, walking into that situation, thinking, ‘I could respond to that situation’.”

Pc Beshenivsky was gunned down in Bradford in November 2005 during a botched travel agent robbery.

The 38-year-old mother-of-three, who also had two stepchildren, was shot and killed on her youngest daughter’s fourth birthday as she responded to an alarm call.

Her colleague, Pc Teresa Milburn, was wounded.

Greater Manchester Police fell silent today to remember the two officers murdered yesteday. Fellow officers and civilian staff at GMP held a minute’s silence at 11am in memory of Constables Fiona Bone, 32, and Nicola Hughes, 23.

Thousands of tributes have poured in for the women, and Pc Hughes’s family said she had died doing “the job she loved”.

Home Secretary Theresa May is due to meet GMP Chief Constable Sir Peter Fahy later today - it is understood she has cut short her holiday in the wake of yesterday’s murders.

Meanwhile, Greater Manchester’s Chief Constable said said it was “absolutely normal” for police to have bailed the man who now faces accusations that he killed two unarmed policewomen.

Constables Bone and Hughes had been sent to investigate what appeared to be a routine burglary report when they were attacked yesterday with a gun and a grenade.

Soon afterwards one of the country’s most wanted men, Dale Cregan, 29, gave himself up to police.

It emerged last night that Cregan was arrested in June in connection with another murder but was released on bail pending further inquiries.

Commenting today Chief Constable Sir Peter Fahy said in a statement: “It is absolutely normal in the course of complex crime inquiries that when people are arrested there are occasions where there is insufficient evidence available for them to be charged.

“In those circumstances suspects have to be released on bail as there are strict time limits covering how long suspects can be held in custody without charge. That is exactly what happened in this case.”

Cregan had been questioned and bailed in connection with the murder of Mark Short, 23, who was shot dead in a Manchester pub in May.

Mr Short’s father David Short, 46, who had branded his son’s killer a coward, was murdered in a gun and grenade attack at his home in August.

After he was released on bail in relation to the killing of Mark Short Cregan went on the run and became Manchester’s most wanted man.

After the murders of the two police officers at an address in Abbey Gardens, Hattersley, the fugitive gave himself up at nearby Hyde police station.

At a press conference yesterday, Sir Peter said it was one of the “darkest days” in the history of the police service.

He told reporters: “Clearly we are devastated today by the loss of two of our officers.

“This is one of the darkest days in the history of the Greater Manchester Police if not for the police service overall, because we have lost two deeply-loved and valued colleagues, because they are part of our team. Policing is very much a family.”

The chief constable said it was routine to send unarmed officers to a burglary call.

He said police now believe Cregan or someone else reported the burglary.

Sir Peter said he believed Cregan had been “protected by a criminal conspiracy to harbour him”, adding that the force was “fully determined” to investigate that conspiracy and bring those involved “to book”.

Two people from Abbey Gardens address, a man and a woman, are helping police with inquiries. One was named locally as barber Alan Whitwell.

At yesterday’s press conference Sir Peter said he was not aware that Cregan had contacted police at any time during their manhunt or made any threats to police officers.

But he added that police had been looking at a range of scenarios including Cregan trying to kill other people as a result of the gangland feud he was involved in.

The outrage prompted renewed calls for the routine arming of police.

But Sir Peter said his force believed “passionately” that police should remain unarmed, despite the tragedy.

Cregan, who only has one eye after reportedly losing the other during a fight in Thailand, had been the subject of a huge manhunt after the murders of the Shorts.

A £50,000 reward had been offered for information leading to his arrest.

David Short was killed at his home in Folkestone Road East, Clayton, Manchester, on August 10, while Mark was gunned down at the Cotton Tree pub in nearby Droylsden, on May 25.

Four men have already been charged in connection with Mark Short’s murder and will enter pleas at Manchester Crown Court in November.

A 33-year-old man and a 24-year-old man have been charged with the gun and grenade murder of David Short.

The chairman of the Greater Manchester Police Federation Ian Hanson called yesterday’s killings “the slaughter of the innocents”.

He said: “I’m going to look beyond the uniform here. What we’ve got are two young girls that went out this morning and they’ve got an absolute right to come home tonight to their loved ones. This is cold-blooded murder. It’s the slaughter of the innocents. GMP is a family.”

Prime Minister David Cameron said the killings were an “absolutely despicable act of pure evil”.

Eyewitnesses said a hail of bullets was fired and then a grenade was used during the attack, shortly before 11am. One of the officers died at the scene. The second was critically injured and died later.

Sir Peter yesterday paid tribute to Miss Hughes, describing her as a “chatterbox” and a “great bobby” who was “always smiling”.

He said Miss Bone was a “calm, gentle woman” and an “excellent bobby”.

Police said Miss Bone had been in the middle of planning a civil ceremony for her same-sex partnership.

In a statement, Pc Hughes’s family said: “Nicola was our only daughter and a beautiful child. She was always happy with life and lived for her family.

“She had an infectious personality and sense of humour and was a very caring and loving girl. When she left the house this morning she was going to the job she loved.

“Nicola always wanted to make a difference and, in doing so, she made such a big difference to everyone she knew. She cared about everyone and especially her colleagues.

“Nicola was only 23 years old and had the whole of her life in front of her.

“We cannot express how we feel today except to say we have always been exceedingly proud of Nicola and always will be. She knew she was loved by us all and we shall all miss her dreadfully.”

Police said Pc Hughes lived in the Oldham area with her mother, Susan.

She also leaves behind her father, Bryn, and younger brother, Sam.

She joined GMP in 2009 and had just over three years’ service, all of it in the Tameside division.