Well, I got THAT Wrong...

I've been obsessing about a potential collapse in the Met police, while talking to Dr North from EU Referendum. He's been talking about the solution lying in the citizenry, and I had interpreted this as thinking on a much longer timescale; years, perhaps, rather than the hours and days ahead that I was thinking about.

Suddenly, realisation dawns. The citizenry ARE the solution, and the timescale IS hours and days. Whether we observe sikhs in Southall, bengalis in Bethnal Green, or englishmen in Enfield or Eltham, men are standing up for their pubs and local shops. And doing a far better job than the "professionals".

It isn't clear that this will be effective vs a 4am attack, of course, but it appears to me that the police had a 0% success rate in stopping riots in a timely manner while preventing looting, so it is progress. Not everyone will view it that way.

If someone wants to make political hay out of this affair, one way would be to allow the police to "deputise" groups of people. The police unions may oppose the idea, attacking their privileged position and removing their best counter-argument to budget cuts as it does, but it would be myopic of them. The people of this country will stand and will fight for what Arthur Daley would have called his "manor". The police can adapt to provide an NCO cadre for this tide of old/new behaviour, or ask the tide to stop.

The obvious place for this suggestion to come from is ACPO, but they are so indoctrinated with NuLabour nostrums as to make this impossible. In the light of the failure of the senior police leadership, it would be prescient of the Police Federation to show that it was more than an insular trade union.

It would be rather whimsical if the EDL could pull off the coup of getting sikhs to share a stage when asking for deputisation.

Update: 20:27 2011-08-10
What I meant to say, I guess, is that for "local" areas, these riot-loot incidents are over. Local people will defend their locality, in the same way that air passengers will defend "their" plane post 9-11. In the same way that air hijacking has become a vanishingly rare event, the type of riot-storm seen this week will soon be something of the past, provided the government doesn't attack citizen militia too harshly.


The Temporary New Normal

Living in London, I'm taking an active interest in the riots.

No-one I've read yet seems to have grasped that this is the new normal. We had a stable situation at a certain level of criminal activity. The criminals have suddenly understood that with a level of organisation, they have capabilities completely beyond the police to handle. It doesn't help that they may well have better comms than the police. Situations like the student protests and the Bristol riots showed categorically that the policing system bequeathed to the new government simply cannot handle almost any disorder. That is allied to an officer cadre with little to no public disorder experience other than kettling football fans.

The situation will require dramatic increases in police capability. Maybe martial law, maybe citizen militia, maybe doubling the size of the Met, but certainly new equipment like water cannons. Currently, the Metropolitan police are failing to handle the situation despite drawing on almost all the free policing resources in the South-East. Those resources will be increasingly spent as effective forces as exhaustion hits them. If the riots continue to next Monday (as I anticipate), the police resources will simply deteriorate.

But what has happened in London can happen in ANY significant city in the UK. Unarmed police with nothing more than a stick and shield are not effective against mobile and diffuse mobs. No doubt people will talk about "things returning to normal". Fools.

This IS the New Normal until police resources are significantly increased. And the level of re-organisation required is going to take months and years to put into place.