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After a man was shot allegedly by police in Tottenham, London on Aug 4 2011, his family and friends went to the police station for a peaceful protest. At this point somehow the situation was not managed as it should have been. Knowing the Metropolitan Police (MP) I can just imagine how they treated those coloured people, indifference,arrogance,high-handedness? There has always been a perception that there is an element of discrimination by MP against the immigrants particularly when the person is black.

Back to the very first encounter of a black crowd with the generally white MPs on that fateful day, obviously there was a deep dissatisfaction and people started to express their anger against the police by burning their vehicle parked nearby and so it started through social networks, twitters, blackberry what have you, the angry sentiment against the police was spread like wild fire.The deep seated hatred was released to the level that the MP were not prepared for. To make matters worse, their Chief Commissioner and his Deputy just resigned a few weeks earlier due to the phone hacking scandal in the Murdoch-owned newspapers. Their moral must have been affected to a certain extent.

On duty MP posing for a photo

The first three nights of the mayhem showed the MP virtually lost control of the massive marauding gangs burning and later looting. The gangs were joined by other opportunistic participants emboldened by the police seemingly lack of control and non-use of force. Again through technology, other people in other cities suddenly noticed that in London people were burning and looting and the police were just standing by and looked, so the disenfranchised decided to do the same and by this time it was no longer about anger against the shot black man in Tottenham. It was about opportunity,anger against authorities and about fun at breaking shop premises and getting what you have always wanted but not able to afford. And so copycatting violence, burning and looting sprang across England, in Manchester,Liverpool,Nottingham, Birmingham, Bristol where there are many pockets of relatively poor and jobless black people reside.

And so what initially were London riots became England riots.

A 140-year old furniture shop in Croydon, London totally destroyed by rioters

The MP were not acting as they should because they were outnumbered by the time the riot unfolded. British police also do not carry batons what more guns. The rioters became brave and they even taunted the MP, throwing missiles at them and even charged at them and the MP backing away? My goodness! real unthinkable especially after you’ve just seen what Malaysian police did to those 9/7 Bersih marchers with cannons and tear gas! In London the police has no water cannon. When it was suggested to use the machine, the Home Secretary did not agree saying that British policing is by “community consent”, whatever this means. It was rather comical to me, here were the rioters burning shops,buildings and cars by the hundreds and our madame secretary talked about “consent” obviously she was out of touch with the situation, monitoring it from the comfort of her house?

Feral looters of a convenience store

Seen on BBC how shop owners were lamenting that the police were not able to protect them when the gangs were going around burning and looting. One shop owner said he rang the local police about his shop being looted and the police said to him “Don’t waste our time”. Imagine people how disorganized the London police at the height of the riots. Lack of police protection led the communities to set up their own vigilante groups to fight off the scumbag looters. I felt sad seeing such naked lawlessness in a country supposed to be structurally organized with well-trained law enforcement officers.

A woman jumping off a burning building

Not until PM David Cameron took over and extolled a fightback response did we see some order being restored on the evening of the third day of anarchy. I cringed had the police tactics continued, all those elegant departmental stores in Oxford St would have been burned down and looted as by then other classes of people had already joined in the looting frenzies. The ensuing presence of a massive number of police, finally showing force with their batons and shields, had somewhat controlled the rioting in London. And they then started arresting looters. The court worked 24 hours to process the arrested.

Fightback after massive destructions

There are lessons learnt here. First the need for a more sensitive police risk management of an angry public and secondly you need to show force right from the beginning to rout the troublemakers even calling in the troops to quell the increasing violence but of course being British with their stiff upper lip, that is not the way, that is so bloody uncivilized like saying “No sex please, we are British”! And so they suffered one of the most devastating riots in decades. The damages, loss of properties and jobs must have been in the billion. The affected business owners (the tax payers) should rightly sue their government for its utter failure to protect them!

No water cannon please, without community consent!

Perhaps they are mindful of what they have been preaching to the world all these years as succinctly stated by the Washington Post in their comment below:

Quote “Britain — a leading critic of crackdowns by totalitarian governments overseas — is suddenly finding itself in a heated debate over the methods it should use to combat lawlessness at home”. How aptly put.

I will have the much-maligned Malaysian Police anytime!

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