Hollow-point bullets: used
at the discretion of police chiefs
The Brazilian man shot
dead by police in the mistaken belief that he was a suicide bomber
was killed with a type of bullet banned in warfare under international convention,
The Daily Telegraph has learned.
The firing of hollow point ammunition into the head of Jean Charles de Menezes,
27, is believed to be the first use of the bullets by British police.
It will re-ignite controversy around the shooting, at Stockwell Underground station,
south London, on July 22.
Modern hollow point bullets are descendants of the expanding "dum dum"
ammunition created by the British in an arsenal of the same name near Calcutta,
in India, at the end of the 19th century and outlawed under the Hague Declaration
The bullets, which expand and splinter on impact, were available to officers
taking part in Operation Kratos, the national police drive against suspected
suicide bombers which has been described as a "shoot to kill" policy.
Their issue was sanctioned after research suggested that they were an effective
close-quarters ammunition for use against someone about to trigger a suicide
It is believed the decision was influenced by the tactics used by air marshals
on passenger jets - where such bullets are designed to splinter in the body
and not burst the fuselage. They have been assessed as posing less risk to people
around the suicide bomber than conventional bullets but the effect on victims
Jean Charles de Menezes
Like the overall Kratos policy, the decision to make dum dum-style bullets available
was taken in secret. However, it is understood that the Home Office became aware
three years ago that police were considering their use.
Negotiations on possible national guidance are understood to have been inconclusive
and the choice of ammunition appears to be at the discretion of police chiefs,
not the Home Secretary.
There is no legal prohibition on police use of such ammunition. The Home Office
confirmed last night that "chief officers may use whatever ammunition they
consider appropriate to meet their operational needs".
It is understood from security sources that hollow point bullets are still
available as an option to police firearms teams in Kratos-type cases.
The Independent Police Complaints Commission is investigating the shooting
during which seven bullets were fired into Mr de Menezes's head and one into
A number of officers, including members of the firearms and surveillance teams
and the Scotland Yard commander who ran the operation, Cressida Dick, have been
issued with notices that they are subject to inquiries by the IPCC.