The Police and Medics Protecting Us in the Face of Terrorism

The Police and Health Workers Protecting Us in the Face of Terrorism

Four people have died and forty more were injured in a terror attack in Central London. A single attacker drove into pedestrians on Westminster Bridge, before crashing into the railings outside the Houses of Parliament.

The man then ran towards Parliament, where he stabbed and killed an unarmed police officer.

Against the backdrop of terror, there has been widespread praise for the police, who work daily to prevent attacks of this kind, and for the healthcare workers who treat the injured. Doctors and nurses from nearby St Thomas’ Hospital were reported to have run to the scene to help the victims. Foreign Officer Minister Tobias Ellwood was also seen giving first aid the injured policeman.

Protecting the Public from Acts of Terror

Credit: Hugh Dickinson

As the United Nations Human Rights Office recognises, terrorism aims for the “destruction of human rights, democracy, and the rule of law“. It is therefore vital that our human rights and legal protections stand firm in the face of terror.

As well as having a moral duty to protect the public from terrorism, the Government must protect citizens as part of its Human Rights obligations. Under Article 2 of the Human Rights Convention, the Right to Life, States have a duty to protect our lives, and this includes taking effective counter-terrorism measures. This means working to prevent and deter future terrorist attacks, as well as prosecuting those responsible.

The police frequently foil would-be terrorists in the United Kingdom. Since the 2013 murder of Lee Rigby, they have stopped 13 planned attacks.

In carrying out this work, they often put their own lives on the line. This was recognised by Prime Minister Theresa May. Speaking in Parliament after the attack, she said:

Everyday when they put on that uniform they don’t know what they are going to confront in the course of their duties that day. It’s a fact often forgotten that they do put their lives on the line for our safety and security.

Helping the Victims of Terrorism

As with the duty to protect citizens from acts of terror, the Government has not only a moral obligation, but a human rights obligation to make healthcare available to all. The Right to Health means that functioning public health care facilities, goods and services must be available and accessible – equally – to everyone.

As well as the police working to combat terror threats, health workers have also been widely praised for their role in helping the victims of the Westminster attack, with several reports of doctors and nurses sprinting from nearby meetings and hospitals.

Like the police, doctors, nurses and other medical workers often make huge sacrifices to help others – a fact which the Westminster attack highlighted. An editorial in the Daily Mirror expands:

It has become commonplace to praise our police and emergency services. [This attack] showed why we should never take their gallantry and professionalism for granted.

Police officers and healthcare workers carry out the duties of the state, often at a considerable personal cost. That must never be forgotten.

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About the Author

Jem Collins

Jem is the Strategic Impact Director for RightsInfo, working on increasing our reach across the UK and measuring our impact. Previously she was the News and Social Media Editor. She is also passionate about helping young people into the media and runs Journo Resources, a start-up which helps young people into the media, as well as serving as a trustee of the Student Publication Association. She is also one of the co-founders of The Second Source, a group to help end harassment in the media. Email Jem View all posts by Jem Collins.
The Police and Health Workers Protecting Us in the Face of Terrorism
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