Police officer seriously injured in shooting.

Times Online February 14, 2006

Rachael Bown is a 23-year-old trainee officer who was out with another police officer when she was shot (Police/PA)

WPC seriously injured in Nottingham shooting
By Sam Knight and agencies

A trainee female police officer has been shot and seriously injured while investigating a burglary in Nottingham late last night.

Rachael Bown, 23, was shot in the stomach after she and an experienced officer challenged a man near the scene of the reported break-in in Lenton, an inner city area popular among students.

Nottinghamshire Police said that Ms Bown was shot below her body armour and has undergone emergency surgery for an injury to her lower abdomen. She is now in a serious condition in intensive care at the Queen's Medical Centre.

Police said Ms Bown and the other officer, who has at least 15 years on the force, were called to a burglary on Lenton Boulevard, a busy road lined with student accommodation, at around midnight. Soon after they arrived at the scene the officers challenged a man in the street, who opened fire, hitting Ms Bown.

Alex Wyatt, a 21-year-old student whose flatmate, Jody Ottery, called the police to report the break-in, said the burglar had run away from the house as soon as he was disturbed.

"I was out, but my housemate Jody was in on his own. From what I understood he was on the first floor in his bedroom when he heard a window smash and someone force their way through the front door," said Mr Wyatt.

"He came downstairs and saw this guy who just ran. Jody called the police. Two officers turned up and somehow a WPc was shot. I haven’t been able to speak to Jody yet because he’s with the police but I know everybody is shaken up."

No-one has been arrested but a major investigation is under way, police said. Part of Lenton Boulevard remains cordoned off, causing severe disruption in the city this morning.

"This is an extremely serious incident and has been a terrible shock to this officer’s family," said Chief Superintendent Marcus Beale of the Nottinghamshire Police. "At this moment, her family are with her and our thoughts are very much with them at the moment."

"Officers are clearly very concerned about their colleague and we are 100 per cent committed to finding and apprehending this offender as soon as possible."

Mr Beale declined to say whether the attacker was believed to the man who broke into the house on Lenton Boulevard. "It may or may not be that that individual is involved that that burglary investigation," he said. "Time will be the test of that."

Earlier, Mr Beale told the BBC that Ms Bown, who was nearing the end of her two years of probationary training as a constable, had been wounded below the level of her body armour.

"The reality is that she was shot below where her body armour protects, fairly low down, and hence the serious injuries," he said.

Asked about her level of experience, Mr Beale replied: "In the police service, when people initially join, there is a huge amount for them to learn. Not only the law, but all the issues around the interpersonal skills that are necessary. That normally takes round about two years before, if you like, they become fully fledged. Rachael was just approaching the end of that period."

The shooting is likely to fuel the debate over whether police officers should be armed. The Police Federation is preparing to carry out its biggest survey for years on the question, asking the opinions of all 140,000 members of Britain's police forces in the run-up to its conference later this year.

"Our thoughts are with Pc Bown’s colleagues today as they continue in their duty to provide a service for the people of Nottingham and carry out a professional inquiry into the shooting to ensure justice is delivered," Jan Berry, the chairwoman of the Police Federation, said today.

"The officer was wearing body-armour. However, this did not offer sufficient protection for Pc Bown."

Hazel Blears, the Home Office Minister, said she was shocked that an officer had been shot in the course of her duties. "My thoughts are with the injured officer and her colleague at this difficult time," she said.

Shootings of police officers remain rare. Two months ago Sharon Beshenivsky, a female police officer and mother of three, was shot dead after she was called to an armed robbery at a travel agency in Bradford.

At least five people will face murder charges in connection with the Beshenivsky shooting. Two men have already appeared in court. Charges against three more men, Hassan Razzaq, 25, his brother, Faisal Razzaq, 24, and Raza Haq Aslam, 24, were outlined at Leeds Crown Court yesterday.

Nottingham, labelled Britain's "gun capital", has been closely associated with high levels of gun and drug crime in recent years and still has one of the highest burglary rates in the country. But the city has run a major anti-firearms campaign since the unprovoked drive-by shooting of a 14-year-old girl, Danielle Beccan, in October 2004.

Two men were jailed for her murder last year and Home Office figures showed that gun crime fell by 16.5 per cent in Nottingham in 2005. The number of people injured by gun crime has fallen from 70 in 2003 to 11 last year, police said today.

Cripes. I hope she comes through this okay. I really don't see why the British police forces were disallowed the use of firearms... makes police work twice as dangerous by the looks of it.
Telling a Law Enforcement Officer Trainee or not, to go out and apprehend a CRIMINAL, THUG, or TERRORIST without some way to defend themselves, is like sending an Army into combat without a rifle, ammunition and grenades. Sending unarmed people to capture armed people is like bringing a knife to a gun fight. NOT GOING TO HAPPEN.
The people who dream up such laws belong in a Lunatic Asylum.

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