Sunday, August 07, 2011


I am starting to get a bad feeling about the riots that started in North London yesterday. Of course a full and impartial investigation will take place to find out what led to a man being shot by police officers, but that will take many months. The early press reports suggested that the deceased was stopped in a Trident operation and was shot dead after producing a weapon and firing it, the bullet lodging in a police officer's radio. The press ran with that story and the usual commenters made the point that a man who had fired at police had himself been shot. That would seem fair to me too, but the latest reports (all unconfirmed like everything in this post) suggest that the bullet in the radio was a police one.
There is a depressing feeling of déja vu about a police incident in which the early press reports turn out not to reflect the truth. That truth will be established in due course, but what worries me is that practically no one now accepts the first police account of these sort of incidents. That allows for rumours and hysteria, then violence. And violence is so often followed by looting, as the glittering shop windows become irresistible to local thieves, who seize their chance.
As usual, the police on the street stood up to the bricks and bottles and contained the riot as best they could. But if their managers had not tossed away their force's credibility so often in the past, the riots might not have kicked off at all.

I see that even Gadget sees the potential trouble from this.

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