AS gunman Derrick Bird made his way across West Cumbria on a shooting rampage police did everything they could to stop him and protect the public.

Assistant Chief Constable Andy Slattery was responsible for overseeing the immediate investigative response and managed the incident as it unfolded.

He said: “It was an extremely high pressure incident for everybody involved. It was surreal because this isn’t something you ever anticipate is going to happen. It’s something that doesn’t feel real at the time when it’s happening but it’s what we are trained to deal with.”

ACC Slattery, who was Detective Superintendent at the time, said intelligence played a key part. The urgency was to find out who the suspect was and where he was.

Events weren’t reported to police in chronological order and he said it was difficult to make sense of Bird’s movements. As police managed to build up a picture of what was going on, intelligence staff informed and warned the public, contacting businesses along the Eskdale Valley to ensure people took shelter and got inside.

Armed officers from across the county were deployed - including those on rest days or leave who volunteered for duty - along with CNC armed officers and dog handlers from Sellafield and an RAF helicopter.

“We are all human and all joined the police because we want to help people who are in need,” ACC Slattery continued. “We were all very deeply affected by the events that day and for a long time afterwards. As the event unfolded people were losing their lives. It was a really traumatic experience for anybody who was responding to that from any of the services.

“I’ve dealt with a lot of tragic circumstances and a lot of very difficult incidents and, up until the coronavirus this year, I would say without a doubt the shootings in Cumbria were the most extraordinary and difficult experience I’d had in my career. It’s very difficult to compare the events of 2010 with the current pandemic, and my role is different in the two, but they are equally impactive and equally extraordinary events.”

ACC Slattery added that the strength, resolve and community spirit in West Cumbria was the one positive that stood out.

“The way in which the community came together to support the families who were bereaved, and the families of the 11 people who were also very badly injured as well, was humbling,” he said.

“Our local population in West Cumbria were extremely supportive of the police and of the actions we took on the day.

“Cumbria is a place where the police are very much part of the community. We all serve the community and that spirit of mutual support between the police and the public and the other local authorities was the most memorable aspect of this terrible tragedy and the one positive that came out of it for me.”

In line with the way the community remember the event, police reflected quietly remembering the 12 victims who lost their lives.