A ‘callous murderer’?

Hannah ThompsonYouGovLabs and UK Public Opinion Website Editor
July 13, 2010, 11:23 PM GMT+0

Extensive media coverage of Northumbrian killer Raoul Moat, who killed himself following a police standoff on Saturday, has seen him rise to second place on the TellYouGov leaderboard. The topic has seen a dramatic volume increase of 73, up to 133, in the past 48 hours, and the public’s dismal views of Moat’s actions have been reflected in his low sentiment score, which is currently down at a poor, and still decreasing, -89.

Raoul Moat, who went on the run after shooting his ex-girlfriend and her new boyfriend, as well as a policeman, had ‘declared war on the police’, and became Britain’s number one fugitive by hiding for over a week in the underground drain network in Rothbury, Northumbria.

The tabloid press leapt on the story and the resulting publicity has seen a surge in TellYouGov comments, or ‘tygs’, who have highlighted all elements of the case. One particularly controversial issue is that of the police’s use of a taser gun on Moat shortly before he killed himself; the police have come in for criticism amid suggestions that the use of taser guns should be reviewed.

Blame the police?

And while one user, or ‘tygger’, asked why ‘it took 15 police squadrons to find him’, it seems that most are behind the police. One voices the views of many by stating ‘police are always blamed when they shouldn't be. Moat was always going to end up dead’. Another message of support read, ‘the police did a good job – [because] no one else was hurt’.

The family of a killer?

But while most seem adamant that Moat ‘was a killer’ and should therefore ‘not be made a hero’, Moat’s family have spoken out against the treatment of their relative. Angus, Raoul’s brother (pictured), has called his death a ‘public execution’, and while one tygger agreed ‘the police should have let him negotiate with his brother’, such sympathy has otherwise attracted much disdain among most tyggers. One questioned the sincerity of the brothers’ relationship, asking ‘where was his family when it was needed?’ while another unequivocally stated ‘the whining about this callous murderer should stop’.

The sentiment towards Moat is not all negative, though, with many criticising the ‘sordid’ way in which his story was dealt with in the media. Tygs continued throughout Sky News’s live tracking of the situation, and many simply said there was ‘too much coverage’, while another felt it was ‘intrusive’ and ‘appalling’, and robbed Moat of ‘dignity’, ‘demonising’ him when he was ‘obviously a sick man’.

Independent inquiry?

The story has provoked many questions surrounding the actions of police in such situations, as well as questioning the role the media had in the chase, and it is thought an independent inquiry will be held to determine the details of the case. One tygger found this particularly galling, stating that we should not ‘waste time or public money doing an independent investigation on what happened when he [clearly] shot himself’.

And while the case has clearly divided the nation, one tygger simply said it was ‘tragic’ for all involved. The police showdown and suicide brings an end to one of Britain’s largest manhunts in recent years, but with the TellYouGov volume score showing no signs of decreasing, watch this space to see if there are further repercussions yet to come.

Have your say: The TellYouGov keyword for this topic is 'Raoul Moat'

What is TellYouGov?
What do the numbers on the TellYouGov leaderboard mean?
Click here to see the LIVE TellYouGov leaderboard