20 August 2011

Public Order

Distractions have prevented me from writing recently, which is a shame. This tweet of Old Holborn's is worth a book, as I believe it, bizarre as it sounds, to be true, but it is over a month old, and I haven't got round to it.

On the other hand, my silence has at least prevented me from embarrassing myself over the riots, since they look very different with hindsight than they did at the time. The one public comment I made was this, which is not too bad.

The riots lasted two nights in London, with a third in Birmingham and Manchester. They were in no way out of the ordinary; just something that happens every few years in the warm bit of summer.

The police response was initially hesitant and inadequate, but, within 48 hours, that was corrected. My theory was that the police originally thought that these were good rioters, like the anti-cuts riots in March. Good rioters have to be allowed to riot: it is just part of their duty as citizens.

However, as Wikipedia tells us, the 2011 London anti-cuts protest is Not to be confused with 2011 England riots. Those are bad riots, and the police must keep order in the streets, whatever it takes. "Kettling" of good rioters is an infringement of their civil liberties, but when bad rioters are running around, the police must find excuses for not having water cannon and baton rounds to hand.

I don't think they can be blamed for their confusion. I'm not sure if they weren't aware of the distinction between good and bad rioters, or if, like Jody McIntyre, they mistakenly thought that these were good rioters. In any case, once the police understood the distinction, the trouble was cleared up pretty quickly.