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Bird 'could not be stopped sooner'

Police could not have stopped gunman Derrick Bird any sooner before he turned his weapon on himself after shooting 12 people dead, an independent review found.

An inquest into the deaths was told the response to the massacre on the day by Cumbria Constabulary was "reasonable in the circumstances".

A total of 30 armed officers were deployed in the hunt for the mass killer within 90 minutes of Bird targeting taxi drivers in Whitehaven town centre on June 2 last year.

The aim was to "neutralise the threat" posed by the taxi driver as he drove along his route, with the priority to protect the public, but armed police were never sure where he was - apart from on one occasion - and where he was heading.

In his independent report, Assistant Chief Constable of West Mercia Police, Simon Chesterman, noted a number of operational weaknesses as he made a host of observations and recommendations.

But he said even if they were implemented at the time it would have made no difference to the outcome.

Giving evidence, he said: "It's reasonable to identify weaknesses when looking in detail at split-second decisions taken in fast-moving incidents.

"If you said to me 'Was the Cumbria Constabulary response reasonable in the circumstances?' Yes it was. 'Could it have been better?' Yes it could and we learn every time that these tragedies happen.

"Hand on heart I could not say had those weaknesses not been present he would have been stopped any sooner.

"The fact that Derrick Bird had extensive local knowledge, was a taxi driver, was intent on causing as much damage as possible and the route and the incredible amount of terrain he covered...he made it incredibly difficult to find him."


From Belfast Telegraph