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UK Soft Policing Has Failed Britain


Apr 3, 2005
POLICE let the UK down. They were unable to stop the riots from spreading. Law and order is not about political correctness, it is about stamping out crime.

WHAT we're seeing in London, as looters and rioters run amok and impotent police stand around watching, is the problem of politically correct policing writ large.

It is the triumph of a managerial, bureaucratic process-driven style of policing hatched in the rarefied confines of academia rather than on the harsh reality of the streets.

Every now and then the two meet and you get bloody anarchy. No prizes for guessing who comes off second best.

"It's absolute bedlam on the street," one resident of Clapham, interviewed on the BBC, said of Tuesday, the fourth night of rioting.

"People have been openly looting for an hour, two hours, and the police have been ineffectual. They've done nothing."

Did Britain's police fail in their duty to protect cities against the rioters? Join the debate and comment on Miranda's blog

Onelia Giarratano, who was trapped in her hair salon in Clapham Junction while a mob smashed its way in and trashed it, told the BBC: "They were mocking us, (saying) 'look, look, they look scared'.

"Where is the police? I want protection. This is what they're here for . . . I'm not secure at my workplace. I'm not secure at my home place.

"Will they be there to protect us tonight? They weren't here to protect us last night."

She vented her anger on London Mayor Boris Johnson, who had just rushed back to his strife-torn city from a campervan holiday in Canada, leaving behind his wife and four children.

"I was in the salon here when a brick came through the window," she told him, when he visited her rubble strewn street, "and no one was here to defend me."

The distinctly underwhelming Conservative Prime Minister, David Cameron, had also belatedly returned home from his summer holiday in Tuscany, just as the riots spilled into his cultural milieu of Notting Hill, where youths attacked a Michelin-starred restaurant, stealing wallets and jewellery from customers until being beaten back by cooks with rolling pins and knives.

Cameron thundered at a media conference outside 10 Downing Street: "You will face the full force of the law."

But it was all a bit late for tough words and empty threats. The needless terror that ordinary Londoners and others in Birmingham, Manchester and across the UK have been subjected to is an utter failure of British policing.

The post-apocalyptic scenes of riot police, flames, dogs, megaphones, helicopters, sirens and feral balaclava-clad figures flitting around the ruins of civilisation we have been watching the past four nights from the UK could be from Robocop or The Terminator.

They are a manifestation of an emasculated police force so risk-averse and politically correct it has forgotten its primary purpose is to stop bad guys hurting good guys.

Despite attempts by Leftists such as former London mayor "Red Ken" Livingstone to blame the mayhem on spending cuts, what's been happening in London is wanton lawlessness unchecked by authority. Excusing it just emboldens the perpetrators.

AS ANGRY victims demanded a more robust security response, the Cameron Government ordered 16,000 police on to the streets on Tuesday night, but declined to give them the tools that effective force requires, and ruled out calling on the army for back-up.

Theresa May, the UK Home Secretary, espoused the British philosophy of failure: "The way we police in Britain is not through use of water cannon. The way we police in Britain is through consent of communities."

Well, I don't think anyone in those traumatised communities agreed to being bashed unconscious and robbed, or to have their shops looted, destroyed and burned to the ground.

They didn't consent to their houses being broken into as they cowered inside. They didn't consent to being forced to strip naked so thugs could steal their clothes.

All this has been done under the watch of useless police, whose culture of impotence for more than a decade has just emboldened the mob.

"Doesn't matter if the police arrive cos well just chase dem out because as you've seen on the news they are NOT ON DIS TING," as one BlackBerry message, purported to be from the rioters and re-transmitted on Twitter, put it yesterday.

No, the police were not "on Dis ting" at all.

One YouTube video posted on the Anon Ops blog, and titled "Police flee London rioters", shows a dozen riot police with helmets and puny shields backing very fast down a dark street as a mob of black youths runs at them, throwing bricks and bottles and large planks of wood.

The mob finally tires of the sport and runs away, as whoever is filming from a second-floor apartment swears in astonishment at this show of criminal power.

But you can't blame the police for retreating. Frontline police are as much victims of the academic policing disease as the shopkeepers and people who have been attacked and robbed.

They have been let down by their commanders.

Sir Hugh Orde, president of the Association of Chief Police Officers, typified the deskbound managerial mindset of the modern-day police commander: "Police officers are working tirelessly to find those resources and manage their own policing territory," he told the BBC yesterday.

It's all about "finding resources" and managing, not arresting offenders and preventing the looting with whatever reasonable force is deemed necessary.

Ironically, Theresa May last week reportedly blocked the appointment of the legendary former New York and Los Angeles police chief, Bill Bratton, from taking the job of Metropolitan Police commissioner. Cameron, sensing a problem with the British model, had "sounded out" Bratton, whose enforcement of zero-tolerance policing slashed crime rates in New York and LA, and whose take-no-prisoners style is sorely needed in the UK.

In Australia, the British model of policing has been in vogue for over a decade in NSW and Victoria.

On a smaller scale, we saw the same phenomenon of impotent policing during the Cronulla, Redfern and Macquarie Fields riots in Sydney. In the hard-scrabble western suburb of Macquarie Fields in 2005, we saw police looking like sitting ducks as youths pelted them with rocks and molotov {censored}tails, and one officer was knocked unconscious with a plank of wood.

The same thing happened a year earlier in the Redfern riots, after which a NSW parliamentary inquiry declared that the police who had been attacked needed more "cultural awareness training".

What is the point of spending taxpayer money on police if they can't protect people from lawlessness, and seem fit only for handing out parking tickets or providing target practice for thugs.



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1947-2014 (Archived)
Jun 17, 2004
This is what I was attempting to describe two days ago.
Ironically, Theresa May last week reportedly blocked the appointment of the legendary former New York and Los Angeles police chief, Bill Bratton, from taking the job of Metropolitan Police commissioner. Cameron, sensing a problem with the British model, had "sounded out" Bratton, whose enforcement of zero-tolerance policing slashed crime rates in New York and LA, and whose take-no-prisoners style is sorely needed in the UK.

But you know...the US takes a lot of heat for proceeding aggressively. Always made to be the 5000 pound gorilla, unwashed and insensitive.


1947-2014 (Archived)
Jun 17, 2004
Seems now a turnaround in the works in UK the next day. Apparently for four days the police treated the outburst as if it were a political protest, but now see the matter as rank criminality.

Cameron Says Police Admit to Wrong Tactics.

England Riot:

The police admit they got their riot tactics wrong, the prime minister has said, as he announced measures to help homeowners and businesses.

David Cameron told MPs the riots in cities across England were "criminality pure and simple", but there were "far too few police" on the streets.

In an emergency recall of Parliament, he announced a crackdown on facemasks and a review on the use of curfews.

More than 1,500 arrests have been made since the unrest began on Saturday.

Mr Cameron told MPs that it had become clear there had been problems in the initial police response to the disorder.

"There were simply far too few police deployed on to our streets and the tactics they were using weren't working," said the prime minister

"Police chiefs have been frank with me about why this happened.

"Initially the police treated the situation too much as a public order issue - rather than essentially one of crime.

"The truth is that the police have been facing a new and unique challenge with different people doing the same thing - basically looting - in different places all at the same time."

Mr Cameron also set out a range of measures aimed at helping businesses and homeowners affected by the riots.

They included:

  • To look at whether it would be right to stop people communicating via social media when "we know they are plotting violence, disorder and criminality"
  • Plans to look at whether wider powers of curfew and dispersal orders were needed
  • New powers for police to order people to remove facemasks where criminality is suspected
  • Courts could be given tougher sentencing powers
  • Landlords could be given more power to evict criminals from social housing
  • Plans to extend the system of gang injunctions across the country and build on anti-gang programmes, similar to those in the US
  • He said the government would meet the cost of "legitimate" compensation claims under the Riot Act and that the time limit would increase from 14 to 42 days
  • A £10m Recovery Scheme to provide additional support to councils in making areas "safe, clean and clear"
  • A new £20m High Street support scheme to help affected businesses get back up and running quickly
  • Plans for the government to meet the immediate costs of emergency accommodation for families made homeless
  • The prime minister ruled out bringing in the Army, but said "every contingency" was being looked at - including whether the Army could undertake tasks that would free up more police for the front line.

He confirmed a reinforced police presence of 16,000 officers on the streets of London would remain in place over the weekend.

MPs debated the riots for more than seven hours - with most agreeing they were caused by criminals rather than protesters - and that there was no excuse for the actions of a lawless minority.

There was also universal praise for bravery of police - but some, including Home Secretary Theresa May, followed Mr Cameron's lead in criticising their tactics.

Mrs May said policing by consent was the British way, but robust action was needed.

Former Labour communities secretary Hazel Blears said police in her Salford constituency had briefly lost control of the streets - something that was "absolutely devastating" for the community.

'Absolute priority'
More than 20 Labour MPs - led by shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper - have called on the government to reverse planned police cuts.

Labour leader Ed Miliband repeated their calls and urged the government to reconsider the plans.

He said: "The events of the last few days have been a stark reminder to us all that police on our streets make our communities safer and make the public feel safer.

"Given the absolute priority the public attaches to a visible and active police presence, does the prime minister understand why they would think it is not right that he goes ahead with the cuts to police numbers?

Mr Cameron insisted the cuts were "totally achievable" without any reduction in the visible policing presence and said that a "surge" of officers - as seen in recent days - would still be possible in future.

BBC political correspondent Iain Watson said Lib Dem sources had told him there was "absolute coalition unity" on reducing police budgets and the cuts would not be reversed.

Meanwhile, Commons Home Affairs Select Committee chairman Keith Vaz has told the BBC its members have voted unanimously to hold an inquiry into the causes of the riots.

It will also look at the role of social networking, the police response and police resources.

In other developments:
  • A man is arrested over an attack on a Malaysian student who was attacked by rioters in East London and mugged by people who had initially appeared to be helping him
  • More than 100,000 people have signed an online petition calling for anyone convicted of taking part in the riots to lose any benefits they receive - becoming the first to be considered for a Commons debate
  • Up to 250 officers were sent from Scotland to help police in the Midlands and North of England deal with rioting and disorder
  • Police in London say they have more than 100 arrest warrants to work through "in the coming hours and days"
  • The government launches a website with advice to the public on how to cope with the unrest
  • Saturday's Premier League match between Tottenham and Everton at White Hart Lane has been postponed
  • Meanwhile, the Met Police have made 1,009 arrests and 464 people have been charged.

West Midlands Police have also arrested 389 people and 147 have so far been arrested in Manchester and Salford.

Courts sat through the night in London, Manchester and Solihull to deal with people arrested during the four nights of disturbances.

Mr Cameron told the Commons that anyone convicted of violent disorder would be sent to prison.

But Met Deputy Assistant Commissioner Stephen Kavanagh said some officers had voiced disappointment at the sentences handed out so far.

Mr Kavanagh added that there had since been "constructive conversations" between the home secretary, the Met commissioner and the courts.

The prime minister also offered his condolences to the families of Haroon Jahan, Shazad Ali and Abdul Musavir, who died when they were hit by a car in Birmingham on Tuesday night.

He called their deaths "truly dreadful".

Two youths and a man have been arrested on suspicion of murder, while a 32-year-old man arrested on Wednesday has now been been bailed.

The riots first flared on Saturday after a peaceful protest in Tottenham over the fatal shooting of Mark Duggan, 29, by police.

Mr Duggan's death is being investigated by the Independent Police Complaints Commission.



Aug 17, 2010
World citizen!
I think the police are operating between a rock and a hard place. During the student riots earlier this year they were accused of being too heavy handed and have hundreds of complaints lodged against them. In riots after the G7 meeting, one police officer was charged with manslaughter. It is becoming a society where people are quick to sue. Even in my profession, we are always afraid of that and have professional indemnity insurance. Police cannot be more forceful unless they have the support of the public and the people at the top. I think more police also need to be riot trained so they can defend themselves against weapons and that is currently being looked at. Even during these riots there have been attempts to malign the police as too heavy handed in some cases. Maybe they need to have better policies? Maybe the media need to give them a break? I don't know the answer.


1947-2014 (Archived)
Jun 17, 2004
One realization that has come to the fore is that the police action needed is not "riot-control." As the street gangs are not really rioting, but engaging in planned "strikes" and using social media to do it. I have been reading some of the local coverage in my area of events in Britain. The term used here is "flash mobs." Police in the states had the same rude awakening 2 years ago. The first thought was bring out the riot gear, tanks and water canons, but the mobs move too quickly, change targets quickly, and regroup in a "flash." The flash mobs in the states also make use of social media to plan and execute their activity.

The only thing that worked, and that the article hints at: Serious curfews seriously enforced, social sanctions coming from within the same communities that the youth come from, serious jail time for repeat offenders.



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