Guest blog post from fellow tweeter @SirIanBlair
He feels strongly about police cuts and the effect it will have on public and officer safety and has been promoting this for some considerable time. The ongoing riots in London are starting to spread wider and are filtering into other cities. A worrying time. Sir Ian’s thoughts are below;
London Tottenham – Saturday August 6th 2011 – We have serious problems.
During the night Tottenham erupted in mindless acts of rioting as police officers were systematically attacked and petrol bombed; widespread looting continued through the night amidst a back shadow of burning buildings and cascade callouts. The Police station was under siege and two police cars outside lay burning. Many commentators suggest the Metropolitan Police Service, (MPS), were not ready; they couldn’t have been and you must feel for those officers serving the front line on this day in Tottenham. Subsequently I was not impressed with David Lammy and his rather media oriented initial stance that the police should have done better in protecting innocent people. He was trying to score political points. A crystal ball is something none of us have.
Some are saying Tottenham is purely a matter between the police and the community caused by the shooting of Mark Duggan by armed police officers. Isn’t it easy to blame the MPS amidst the concept of armchair policing. Perhaps the MPS could have done better in communicating with the Duggan family. It is too early to conclude. There are still questions about the Duggan incident which the IPCC must resolve quickly. And even as I write this piece today I remain convinced that those police officers involved in this incident reacted to a very serious threat from Duggan. A non police firearm was found at the scene; presumably this was Duggan’s.
However, what some in the media and political sphere appear to conveniently and continuously ignore is how these riots fit into the wider perspective of discontent and cuts in public service provision. Yes, funding in youth clubs has been reduced; yes. The govt. backtracked on its earlier submission to reduce sports funding in schools. How disastrous would it have been to have kids high on adrenaline loose in town centres this summer? well we’re there now. Tottenham has seen a 75% cut in youth spending. Let’s be clear; govt. policy is playing a big part in poor “communities.” And the result is clear. Tottenham – riots – 2011.
So when the govt. says it is not responsible; well the truth is; yes it is.The shooting of Duggan appears to have been the straw that broke the camels back. Furthermore I have not been impressed with the ability of the IPCC’s lead in relaying information to the public. She has been rather patronising and that can only fuel more anger. Cameron on Holiday. Clegg on Holiday. Theresa May, (Home Secretary), also on holiday? Nick Herbert (Police Minister), ill? Today the Home Secretary is cutting her holiday short and returning to London. I still think she hasn’t a clue about the real causes of what’s happening, nor does she care. Well she is a Tory and a class above the riff raff. Indeed May’s first comments on the issue were laughable; like those of a parent chastising a child.
What perturbs me more is Nick Griffin’s attempts to stoke tension between the Black community and the police with his overtly bigoted tweets. In one tweet he suggested Broadwater Farm should be bulldozed down. Sometimes I wish he would shut up, but I like keeping him near so I can see and read what he is upto. These youth are saying they have no opportunity, they have failed education, or is it that the education system and big class numbers has failed them? Of course they want what others have and I see that there is nothing positive for them to do in the near future of 2-5 years. Just look at the age range of offenders, 10 to 20+. Yes, these kids were predominantly Black, but they were not Jewish, as Nick Griffin suggested.
My policing instinct is telling me that the horrible issue of colour and a lack of opportunity for some in society is going to raise its ugly head again. How times have changed. This time the colour is in govt. policy. And that is good for the service. With police officers treading eggshells, when they really don’t need to be; drugs and gang activity can only increase and fuel a vicious cycle. I now expect to see violent street crimes increase over the next year or so; robberies, stabbings, etc. because all in all these kids think its ok, and they will target vulnerable people like the elderly. Only investment can cure some of these ills. But there is none as the govt. keep telling us.
Thankfully there has been a sort of media ban on some video reporting, but this hasn’t stopped youtube. Mobile phones, face book; Twitter; ah technology; these have all played a big part in assisting rioters. And after Tottenham; Enfield, Wood Green, Waltham Forest and Brixton all trickled into mini riots. The question is, how far will this rioting spread up and down the country. The truth is, I don’t know. But if there was ever a time to value and support the police, #protectrpolice, it is now. Officers are working long hours under immense stress and adrenaline. Could you?
I am under no illusion that these riotous kids are angry; and the govts. mess is a big one; undoing all the good work of Labour. Blame the bankers. Youth anger causes violence; and the only people trying to prevent that violence on the front line is police officers. Some will be specials and some with a few years service. Spare a thought for those serving in the MPS and their families. I will conclude this guest blog with my biggest fear; as Inspector Winter has so eloquently already written, “man down.” I hope that there are no police fatalities and that no ambush is conducted against police officers. Tonight Chief Officers up and down the country will be praying that their cities don’t light up like London did this weekend. That is all.