Equally, I am disgusted by the attempts of supposedly intelligent people to try to justify the riots as some kind of legitimate rebellion against the government. What total and utter bollocks. There is no excuse and there never can be. Because the root causes of these riots lie in the breakdown of the values that this country was founded on; family, respect, right and wrong. It really is as simple as that.
As I wrote yesterday (and as the deputy leader of the Met and the Home Secretary repeated about 12 hours later) all of those involved are sons, daughters, brothers, neighbours, etc. Where on earth did some of these mothers think their children were at that time of night? And when they did eventually crawl home, where did they think they had been?
But equally, the lack of respect for the forces of law and order sends shivers down my spine. Don’t get me wrong, I’m no fan of the old bill generally (a sentiment forged by years of football and motoring experiences) but they have a tough job to do and deserve our admiration. However, it was clear from what I saw last night that they are obviously not getting it from sections of the community who clearly thought that not only were they untouchable, but that they would never get caught.
Hopefully, with so many cameras on our streets and many already in custody, the majority of them will not only be named and shamed, but hauled before the courts and dealt with to the full extent of the law. However, this does not deal with the most pressing issue.
When people are involved in what amounts to civil disorder, I, as a citizen of this once great country, want the police to wade in and batter those responsible. Not for revenge but to let them know that if they don’t fuck off and sharpish, they are actually going to get hurt.
Sadly, like the military in such situations the police are governed by the rule of minimum force. For the police, what this actually means is that they can use whatever force they feel necessary in a situation but they must be confident that they can justify this in a court of law.
Now as we have seen all too often, that is an incredibly restrictive rule because the risks are immense. And clearly, over the last few nights, we have seen the impact of that with police holding back when the obvious (and possibly best) thing to do would be to wade in and batter a few people to show force and intent to those causing mayhem.
I don’t know about you, but I want to see that rule relaxed in certain situations. It’s not about revenge or anything like it but it is about the protection of the law-abiding individual and their property. That can only happen if we allow the police to actually uphold the rule of law by taking whatever steps are necessary in such situations and if they could do that, then we wouldn’t need to be screaming blue murder for water cannon or the Army.
Because the truth is that the bulk of people involved in these riots –like all people involved in such riots- are cowards and the knowledge that they might well end up on the receiving end of a few batons courtesy of the thin blue line would almost certainly be enough to make them behave.