Monday, August 20, 2012

Retournons a nos Moutons

A Guest Writes:-

I have just watched the second part of BBC2's documentary on last summer's riots. Last week's programme reported on the attitudes of rioters, none of whom could answer the challenge to explain why and how looting a store in Croydon would help the 'oppressed yoof' of Tottenham. This week's was about the police. It is an accepted fact that the police were woefully under strength at the outset, and the violence and theft came under control as soon as the police were able to deploy enough bodies onto the streets. The first officers sent out were under strength under trained and in many cases under-equipped to face the mobs that were inflamed with drink drugs and excitement combined with the attraction of free stuff. It must have been absolutely terrifying, and it is near-miraculous that no officer was killed by the hysterical crowds.

The most significant fact that I heard was that the early inadequate response to the riots was to a large extent driven by the cost-conscious culture that has spread through the police service just as it has through the courts. The officer on camera said that he was aware of the risk that calling in outside help from other forces would result in his force getting a large bill, with the implication that a heavy rollocking would follow. That is nonsense, just as so many of the false economies in the courts' service are nonsense. Officials repeatedly promise that the front line will be protected -  well, you can't get much  more front line than facing a thousand screaming and out of control rioters.

A review of priorities seems to be in order.


  1. It was never really about "helping the oppressed youth", though. It was what happens when a couple of million people who've spent the last few decades putting up with crap schools, iniquitous rent, mediocre public services and lousy wages -if they're lucky enough to have a job at all- finally lose their tempers all at once.

    It might've done a little good, though. Here:

  2. I think it was Nick Herbert at the Home Office who gave us the politician-speak needed to square this particular circle; Paraphrasing, but using his two key words;"We will protect the front line not preserve it."

  3. Since the 80's, the police have been 'losing control', a euphemism for retreating from the streets of the sink estates.

    Withdrawal, hiding behind the walls of their posh new control centres and out of town HQs - ACPO don't do 'streets' anymore.
    No 'we've moved on', now its all about 'high end crime', thought crime, social services and protecting the administration [from the proles] at all costs.

    Coppering for the people, by men 'of the people' ceased to be long ago, what we have in its place is a gendarmerie and something very 'modern' and EUropean - in all senses.

    Burglary and 'personal robbery', proscribed drug selling, prostitution, are no longer thought to be crimes - in the relative moral vacuum - in between the ears of police chiefs.

    1. In the London Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham:
      1. The police certainly do streets, without any retreat from any neighbourhood.
      2. The crimes listed in your last sentence are very much followed up on.
      3. The same applies to Tower Hamlets, Brighton & Hove, and Havering (other areas where I have seen the police work over prolonged periods).

      Lastly, as far as I know, the EU doesn't have a police force (at least I have never seen such an officer). The car-borne Polizei in Germany have no resemblance to the Met in LBH&F, at least as far as I have seen in Heilbronn (B-W) and Bremen. Nor is there any resemblance between the Met and the four or five overlapping forces that form the 'gendarmerie' of Paris. Your penultimate sentence is 'in all senses' actually nonsense.

      Net, anon 09:25, putting it politely, you are over-generalizing.

    2. High End crime is now the chosen route for anyone from Trading Standards to policing. The 'big busts' get those at the top their knighthoods and politicians their peerages.

  4. As a retired police officer I can confirm that the issue of cost is one of the first things that is considered when dealing with public order issues. Had A/Commissioner Godwin pressed the button on the Sunday night and called in mutual aid on a large scale he would have been accused of over reaction by the MPA and the Home Office had the extra aid kept the disorder to manageable scales, the aid was mobilised later and police were accused of not reacting with enough speed and vigour. If, as a public order commander you use a large amount of resources at an incident, eg an EDL protest and there is no disorder you are accused of over-reaction, if you trim your resources and disorder takes place you are likewise criticised. I wouldn't look to any backing from within the police service as there is no shortage of Monday morning quarterbacks to tell you what you should have done with the benefit of their perfect hindsight.
    It truly is a 'no win' situation. The police were accused of being too hard during the student protests and not being robust enough during the 2011 disorders. AS to anonymous at 0925 the UK police are a long way from being a continental style Gendarmerie. I can think of few UK police forces outside of UK and the ROI that do not have access to water cannon, CS irritant and baton rounds as a routine method of crowd control. FWIW I think it all went really wrong post 1997 when the police were increasingly politicised. I await the next round of disorder with interest.

  5. Gendarme literally means person-with-gun. The French men-with-guns and their police forces are distinct organisations with distinct roles (although police officers also have guns).

    The Italians have their Carabinierie which translates roughly as man-with-a-big-gun. The Carabinierie is a branch of the armed forces of Italy.

    British police are not routinely armed so we do not have a gendarmerie as such except perhaps the PSNI in Northern Ireland who do have guns.

    As for the riots: it seems we are now playing host to a population which wants to riot, with no genuine grievance - the best excuse I heard recently was: Because Britain has not yet apologised for slavery.

    All that these people are waiting for are sufficient like-minded people to join in. This takes a trigger event, but the trigger event is not the cause. The cause is excitement, rebellion and acquisition.

    1. Augmented by chronic vacuousness and self obsession

  6. And the longer the riots went the more people the lock up (jail costs), and the bigger bill the police get to pay for damages.

  7. If people are rioting, looting and committing arson locking them up seems pretty reasonable to me. I am not aware of any police force getting a bill to pay for damages.

  8. Under certain circumstances, if the police lose control of a riot the police authority can be made to pay for the damage. What struck me here was the inter-force bills that were in issue. Of course overtime and suchlike is an unavoidable cost, but ultimately it all comes out of the same pot.

    1. I can tell you that the Met asked Surrey for help and were turned down. Surrey did not have enough public order trained officers to be in a position to help. I suspect that the Met got the same answer from other Forces too.

  9. Jake, you are not in the real world. These people didn't riot because of oppression, poor public services, education, pay. Etc.

    They rioted because we have a growing sector in our society who do not take responsibility for their lives, encouraged by liberal social engineering where the orchestrators of policy do not have to live among their experiment. Feckless parenting, impotent and failing schools and a totally ineffective justice system results in a bunch of kids in adults bodies who don't accept no and act as they please having no thought for others who are expected to pick up the bills.

    The riots should have been a wake up call to those responsible for the disastrous social engineering project that is failing people in this country. A few decent sentences will give a little respite but nothing has been learnt and there will be more to come.

    Anonymous 0925 21 Aug - you have no idea what you are talking about. The police haven't withdrawn from the sink estates, that is where they spend all their time. It is other areas that never see a police officer as the resources of the police, and most other public services, is soaked up by a growing minority underclass.

    Your comments about burglary, robbery Etc. not being treated as crimes are too stupid to even warrant further comment.

    Joe Public, ditto, you don't have a clue either.

    Brendan W - do you think the police wanted the riots to continue rather than bring them to a stop? The management of it cost Tim Godwin any chance of the Commissioner's job. Allowing the riots to go on might have woken people up to the state of this country and its failing justice system, which is what many police officers have been trying to say for a long time.

    And as BS says, when everyone else has failed and left it to the police, then it is all their fault and they can pick up the bill for it too.

  10. "Last week's programme reported on the attitudes of rioters, none of whom could answer the challenge to explain why and how looting a store in Croydon would help the 'oppressed yoof' of Tottenham."
    Interesting statement, when I don't recall anyone making that claim. Instead, if you read the Guardian's "Reading the Riots", for example, much of had to do with "getting back at the racist police" for having been stopped and searched, or arrested for drugs possession, etc. Dogs barking at trees comes to mind...

  11. The real problem was the lack of police intelligence and memory. The riots of 1981, 1985 etc started in a similar way. The Met Leadership (most of whom would only have recently joined the police as PCs in the 1980s)appeare to have failed to study the history of the 1980s riots. They also started with a single incident involving a black person. Why after the disturbances on the Saturday evening in Tottenham, which followed the shooting of Mark Duggan, on the Thursday, did it take until Tuesday for the Met to have sufficient police on the streets? Why did no senior borough officer (or indeed area or CO commander) sent to invite the representatives who attended the meeting outside Tottenham police station on the Saturday afternoon into the police station for a meeting?


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