Speak Up for Robust Policing

Mark Reckless and Tracey Crouch meet local shop manager Sue Richardson in Chatham

Mark Reckless and Tracey Crouch meet local shop manager Sue Richardson in Chatham

Often it is said that the police are damned if they do and damned if they don’t. If they go in hard they are criticised for infringing human rights but, if they stand back, they are accused of failing to protect property and the public.

Today, after out of control violence and looting over three nights, there are many more voices on the public protection side of that debate than there are on the human rights side. One question I will be asking senior police officers in an emergency session of the Home Affairs Select Committee on Thursday is whether fear of criticism held them back from taking more robust action earlier.

Mark Reckless MP on the streets of ChathamHere in Medway a group of 10-15 youths who came down from London by train last night, it appears to cause trouble, are now in custody. I understand that Medway magistrates have decided that they will deal with them tomorrow and I have every confidence that they will send out a clear message that violent affray will not be tolerated in our towns.  Having served as one of a panel of five who appointed Ian Learmonth as our Chief Constable in Kent, I know very well that we have a no-nonsense  Chief Constable in the traditional mould.  Anyone considering causing any trouble in Kent should be in no doubt that they would be met with an extremely robust response.

MPs Mark Reckless and Tracey Crouch in ChathamIt is crucial that the police know that politicians will stand behind them when they act robustly to maintain public order. If we fail to do so, or are too quick to criticise the police when a particular officer or operation oversteps the mark, then the police may in turn be too cautious about acting, and we will let down the public we seek to serve.

There appears to have been a trend for the police to sometimes stand back in the face of breaches of public order and to focus on gathering video evidence to support later prosecutions. This risks bringing the law into disrepute if the police look on as property is destroyed and the public are justifiably outraged. We also need to ensure that the priority we properly place on policing political demonstrations appropriately does not detract from police capability to deal with harder-edged public disorder.

The police must now be as tough as they need to be to re-establish order and politicians should give them every support required. This disorder is not caused by social deprivation, as Ken Livingstone disgracefully sought to suggest on Newsnight last  night. Rather, as Shaun Bailey so rightly riposted, it follows too long a period in which we have taught youth everything about their rights, but next to nothing about their responsibilities.

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11 Comments

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11 responses to “Speak Up for Robust Policing

  1. Well said, Mark. I think the Senior Police Officers you are going to speak to would benefit from a re-think regarding their ‘responsibilities’ regarding the public’s ‘right’ to protection which is surely their mandate. Perhaps they might be reminded to do as they are tasked to do and leave the political discretion decisions to those elected to make them.

  2. Kelly

    Thank you for being a strong advocate for maintaining public order for those you represent. As an American, I have been shocked at the news of the riots spreading over the UK and am glad to hear a member of the Conservative Party take a stand against those who are attempting to portray the thugs as victims.

  3. jzinsky

    As long as the Police are allowed, funded and legally supported in doing what is necessary to uphold the law. Maybe the policing from my parent’s days in which youths could get a slap across the head for being cheeky had something going for it.

  4. John Olsson

    Mark, you are absolutely right about the Ken Livingstone line – this is simply red ken trying to exploit a situation. It’s disgraceful. These kids are not socially deprived: you need to go a little further afield than Britain for true social deprivation – e.g. Bangladesh and parts of Africa. Please make sure someone points out what a scandal such remarks are in Thursday’s debate.

  5. Bob

    They say it takes a disaster before a problem is corrected. Youths have been running our streets for years now, knowing full well that the police can do no more than “move them on” or hold them overnight to be released the next day with no charge. It is a shame things have gotten to this stage, but perhaps now we can stop pretending that everything is fine on our streets and take some serious steps towards a) Empowering the Police and b) Handing out real punishments to law breakers that act as a deterrent.

  6. 1 of 143000 who dislike Tory Wimps

    It must be lovely to be an armchair expert like you. Apparently when you are elected an MP you suddenly know everything there is to know about life despite doing nothing more for a living than sit around in the comfort of the security blanket we provide and slag us off. The culprit here are the rioters NOT the police you useless waste of space. Get a real job don’t lecture us. If you had to deal with the scum I have to you’d soon be going home crying to mummy you ponsy tory boy

  7. James Westacott

    I was very concerned to note that the police were asking youths to remove their hoodies and caps in Manchester – surely this is an infringement of civil liberties and human rights? Is this legal? I hope that you and your fellow MPs will ensure that the police are prosecuted and put in jail for this over-the-top, illegal response.
    James Westacott

  8. David

    You said,

    “There appears to have been a trend for the police to sometimes stand back in the face of breaches of public order and to focus on gathering video evidence to support later prosecutions. This risks bringing the law into disrepute if the police look on as property is destroyed and the public are justifiably outraged.”

    The reason why the police have adopted this tactic is because of insufficient numbers. Arresting looters is dangerous and, from the TV footage I’ve seen, there’s been so few police that they couldn’t do it without running the risk of being surrounded and attacked. Also, if people are arrested they then have to be taken back to a police station and processed. This ties up officers and keeps them off the streets.

    Public order policing has historically focussed on single large events such as protest marches or football matches, not lots of small riots as we’ve seen in London. I don’t think the police were prepared for this, and I don’t think they have the numbers to cope with this.

    I don’t think social deprivation in itself is the cause, but I do think there is a lack of hope and opportunity in society. House prices are a big issue. When I bought my (very small) home 15 years ago, it cost me £60K. Last month an identical property next door sold for £230K. To afford that you’d need to be earning around £65K a year. How many people will ever earn that much? There are plenty of other problems that create very deep fault lines in society which been ignored by successive governments. Their response has been lots of PR spin but no real action. I condemn the violence unequivocally, but there are reasons for such widespread criminality which we ignore at our peril. Sadly, I have l no confidence in our politicians to do anything other than further their own careers.

  9. Pingback: Social Unrest, British Edition : Lawyers, Guns & Money

  10. tony

    Hi mark, I do think we have taught the youth of today a lot about social responsibility – and they have responded according to the example set by the banking elites who have raped this country. They want a piece of the action too – and you can’t blame them for that.

  11. Pingback: Political Quotes (London Riots) | Jamal Gordon

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