Puzzled by Police 169

I have just been watching live BBC helicopter footage of a group of young criminals attempting over a long period to break into a bookmakers and other businesses in (I think) Hackney. Police in full riot gear were just down the street, watching and making no attempt to disperse them.

I have been on perfectly peaceful demonstrations and been pushed around by policemen acting far more aggressively – and in hugely greater numbers – against non-violent protestors than they are reacting against violent criminals against whom, frankly, the police should be reacting with force; proportionate, but force.

Very hard to understand this at all.

169 thoughts on “Puzzled by Police

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  • Jonangus Mackay

    @ Courtenay:
    Malthouse’s use of the word insurrection was, of course, unintentional. Overstatement? I remain convinced there is no such thing as an un-Freudian slip.

  • mary

    BBC have just said that Cameron is boarding a plane and will chair a COBRA meeting tomorrow morning.

  • mary

    The need for Cameron to return just emphasises Clegg’s uselessness. He was filmed visiting Tottenham today.

  • John Goss

    Courtenay. The strange thing about ‘domestic hardships’ biting deeper is that historically they have brought communities closer together. But that was in the ‘pre-consumer-society’ days. Now the shops are full of high-tech products and there is a tendency for peer-groups to judge one another by who has the latest, most-powerful consumer commodity. How they get these seems to be irrelevant – whether they’re paid for or stolen. Moral-fibre seems to be missing.
    I’m beginning to sound like my grandfather, so here’s a fact. The Birmingham riots of 1791 had a cause. They were brought about by incitement from certain Anglican church leaders, Spencer Madan for one, against non-conformists, because non-conformist churches were luring congregations away from the mainstream church, and that meant luring money away too. As a result the houses and work premises of inoffensive people like William Hutton and Joseph Priestley were set ablaze; their possessions stolen or destroyed. However despicable such acts were, however mindless the cause, they did have a discernible cause. These current riots seem to have no cause, just a trigger.

  • Parky

    Cameron comes home just as Thatcher’s chickens come home to roost.

    BBC Reporter in Clapham says, “There are no police, where are they ?”

  • Suhayl Saadi

    Nursery-Rhyme, for future grandchildren (one hopes):

    Where, O where are the Boys in Blue? Woo, woo, woo, woo woo!
    Polishing their patent leather shoes, hoo-hoo, hoo-hoo-hoo!

  • Parky

    I always suspected some twenty or so years ago when CCTV was being installed wholesale in towns and cities what the real motives were behind it when there was little evidence that the benefits were worth the investment. It seems that the current events were predicted given the policies that Whitehall knew were coming down the line. I remember a line from the Sex Pistols song God Save The Queen, “There’s no future, no future for you.”

  • craig Post author


    I was thinking more of “The Winter of 79” by Tom Robinson. But this is far more mindless…

  • Tristan

    Its simple – police can control those at peaceful demonstrations – they are usually nice middle class liberals who shy away from violence. They know their actions are unlikely to provoke real violence against them.

    In this situation you have streetwise young people who have been demonised and persecuted so much that they have lost any fear of what the police can do to them, they are out to get the police in retribution. The police know they cannot push them around and not stoke an even worse confrontation (look at what a stop and search did in Hackney today).

  • mary

    Better pray for rain. Did you sing this nursery rhyme remembering the Great Fire of London in 1666? I don’t think we are any way near a repeat of that as there are not many timber buildings now. When I see these terraces of timber framed buildings being built with large communal roof voids, I always feel concerned about what would happen in a fire.
    London’s burning, London’s burning.
    Fetch the engines, fetch the engines.
    Fire fire, Fire Fire!
    Pour on water, pour on water.

  • Courtenay Barnett

    @ Mary and John,

    Mary – riots coming into Croydon gives me concern. I lived for near 10 years in SE 19 in Upper Norwood. Long since sold the flat, but for sentimental reasons – tell ’em don’t come much closer to my former home. No – I am taking it all very seriously and trying at the same time to read the political or other motives. John Goss takes it that this is just unadulterated criminality.

    John – I simply do not know. I have defended many youth “alleged” to have done some things and have had to look them in the eyes and ask that “if” the allegations are true, were they so stupid to risk the loss of so many precious years of a finite potentially very useful and productive young life behind bars. I am at heart a liberal with potential revolutionary sympathies ( from the armchair – of course). But, if events did escalate into choices – all of us would have to choose a side. Why – after all the great American President and famous philosopher, George Bush Jr. did utter these profound words: ” You are either wid us or ‘gainst us” – or – words to that effect.

    So – let’s see how it plays out and what the post riots revelations reveal.

    Over to you – Mary and John.

  • Courtenay Barnett

    @ Craig,
    What does “mindless” mean?
    Well a definition for starters:-
    “1. (adj.) mindless
    showing, using, or requiring no intelligence or thought.”
    So, are some thinking:-
    I can get the TV for free by looting.
    I can get the other goods that I was saving up to buy, but here is my opportunity to obtain it at a literally “priceless” cost of zero.
    I can continue to loll around, be unemployed with no future on offer and none that is foreseen – or – I can go out and loot and get some goodies now.
    Craig – I am not setting out to trivialise or be facetious – but – mate – some people just think, function and respond in that way.
    What’s my point – they are not “mindless” – but self-interested and so motivated.
    Over to you Ambassador…

  • Voila

    Heaven Is Where:

    The French are the chefs
    The Italians are the lovers
    !The British are the police!
    The Germans are the mechanics
    And the Swiss make everything run on time

    Hell is Where:

    The British are the chefs
    The Swiss are the lovers
    The French are the mechanics
    The Italians make everything run on time
    And the Germans are the police

  • mary

    The owner of this three generation family business at 104 Church Street, Croydon, Trevor Reeves, has just been speaking on tv. He is devastated, and sounded very affected, as the whole block has been consumed by a massive fire. It was a furniture store. He saw the two arsonists escape through a broken window as he arrived.
    http://tiny.cc/i7q5w Street view on google maps

  • technicolour

    John Goss: “These current riots seem to have no cause, just a trigger.”

    No cause? Sorry, what has this blog been on about, ever since the owner stood in Blackburn against torture? Do people think ‘young people’ are stupid, or don’t know what has been happening, or have failed to pick up on the climate of fear, or the wars, or the bankrupt morality, or the bankers’ scandal, or what?

    A reason is not an excuse, and there is no excuse for torching buildings. Personally, I would break myself backwards in order to stop any people, young people included, resorting to chaos and violence and destruction. But the causes are there, on the front pages, for everyone to see, I think, sadly.

  • larry Levin

    The great fire was in 1666, when was the bubonic plague, did they burn london on purpose due to the 1665 plague of london?

  • Jon

    I’ll write it up in a bit, but just been to Birmingham city centre, and the situation there is quite tense and intimidating. Plenty of riot police, lots of pent-up aggression from a predominantly black youth. I was threatened several times by a variety of protestors, and decided to come back home rather than risk injury and a stolen camera.
    I’ll post these individually:

  • technicolour

    Having said that would also add
    1. None of the many ‘young people ‘ I know in that area would, no matter how disaffected, have taken part in anything like arson or violence
    2. Several friends of mine nearly died in an arson attack in Tottenham last year, which was aimed at a housing block which largely housed refugees. Given that the attacks on policemen during the last student protests were coming from nationalist/EDL groups I would be looking at the role of the Neo Nazi right in this, if I were a proper copper.

  • Courtenay Barnett

    @ Mary,

    I can relate. Tell ’em not to torch my old flat – for sentimental reasons.

    It is not funny when a person loses all they have worked for.

    I agree – trust he had just increased the insurance.

  • ingo

    Wheels that squeak get oiled.

    sadly i fear that the international economic collapse is somewhat wrestling with and within the minds of those who have been disadvantaged by 1970’s policing.
    I agree with you Courtney, this chap in the taxi, most likely unarmed, is our vegetable seller, a maelstroem that attarcts all kind of discontent from far and wide.

    But then its made easy, the lack of culpability and the incongruant wretched coalescence with the same old practises, the politics of a mere minority in this country, it all has somehow had a cumulative effect and disaffectiong, ahead of the Olympics next year, must show to get sorted.

    Despite the policing mistakes of the past, we still hear of excessive stop and search against a partuicular section of society, pre charging young minds, before they are even sixteen, the equivalent of cocking a gun, but then I’m only a stone mason who grew up in inner city Hamburg after the second great unpleasantness.

    I repeat, the Met should be broken up, four or five seperate forces each with a local brief, answerable to the voters alone, not the politician, or ACPO. The public is getting crap policing from ACPO, they are as much implicated by what is going on up and down the country, the corruption implications, media/celebrity connective tissue thats tying pointed evidence, one way, to some of their highest officers.

    Whats Theresa May doing? cancel all holiday, for all, a few hysterioncis with both hands up in the air for the cameras to catch…… and lets have a COBRA meeting
    Tommorrow morning, Hmm, lets say, 9.30am alright?

    She has to find a replacements for Cressida Dicks, put a civil servant in charge for all I care, its about time these people operate to rules.

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