Anarchy 20

“Youths” are rioting in London, Birmingham, Liverpool, Bristol, Leeds and Nottingham. The Washington Post reports:

Rampant looting and raging fires engulfed swaths of London on Monday as the wave of civil unrest that has gripped this sprawling capital escalated sharply …

Police in London arrested more than 160 people over the weekend after two nights of rioting that left several neighborhoods seriously damaged. Dozens of officers were injured. …

Gangs of youths roamed one south London neighborhood while carrying molotov cocktails …

Overwhelmed by the scope of the violence, the embattled Metropolitan Police called in reinforcements from police forces outside London. …

The increasing unrest — spreading in part via BlackBerry text messages as well as postings on Twitter and other social networking sites — was taking root mostly in the powder keg of poorer neighborhoods… But there were outbreaks of severe violence in even gentrified neighborhoods such as Clapham, as well as reports that 50 youths had vandalized shops in the famous shopping district of Oxford Circus.

Police said 250 people had been arrested over the past three days, and at least 69 people have been charged with offenses. …

The violence first erupted Saturday night … after the fatal shooting of a black resident by police investigating gun crimes.

An anonymous London policeman writes:

The next 48 hours are vital for British policing.

If we fail to protect the law-abiding public once more, we will cease to exist in our present form, and rightfully so.

We could end these riots very quickly.

Now the public can meet the people we have been made to call ‘customers’. It’s not very nice. We have been saying this for years but no one listens. Well, they are listening now.

It’s embarrassing to be a police officer (again) at the moment. As for the 450 we have arrested, we all know nothing will happen to most of them. It never does, I say it again and again. …

So here is the challenge: give us the legal authority in writing and a guarantee of support if we use force and we will sort it by Wednesday tea time.

What is the rioting really all about? And are the police being restrained from using force to put a stop to it?

Winston Smith answers those questions on his always interesting blog:

The underclass are rising up. No longer content with simply burglaring and mugging the decent law abiding working classes that have the misfortune to dwell amongst them, they have now decided to torch and terrorise the very communities they come from. What we are witnessing in London and in other cities across Britain at the moment is an attack upon the decent and law abiding citizenry of the country. Their places of work have been attacked, looted and even burned down. Opportunisitic burglaries have occured and violent attacks upon the police and innocent individuals are widespread. Fear is endemic and people are anticipating a fourth night of chaos and disorder. The once great nation of Britain is being brought to its knees by a festering parasitic underclass that has been fostered by decades of failed social policies in the spheres of education, criminal justice, social services and welfare provision.

The abandonment of effective discipline in schools, the namby-pamby non-judgementalism that pervades social services and ..  a compliant state that funds dissolute lifestyles are all contributory factors to the chaos on our streets. The forces of law and order that are putatively the guardians of the peace are stymied in their efficacy by a political class that eschews robust policing when it is needed.

The Home Secretary, Theresa May, is responsible for law and order. The party in power calls itself Conservative*, but it is indistinguishable in its sentiments from the opposition Labour Party. (Both have sentiments instead of principles to guide their policies.) When the police wanted authorization for the use of water-cannon to disperse the  rioters, Theresa May refused to give it – just as a Home Secretary under Tony Blair would have done.

She said: “The way we police in Britain is not through use of water cannon…the way we police in Britain is through consent of communities.” I am sure if she consulted the vast majority of people on this island she would discover that very few people would be too concerned about a few thousand drenched tracksuits if it meant a return of law and order and an absence of terror within communities. She then went on to assure us that, “people will start to see the consequences of their actions”.

Now, just what will these consequences be you may ask? Well, for those over eighteen whatever custodial sentences they do receive, if any, they will no doubt serve just a fraction of their sentences as is common for most criminals in the UK. …

In what will clearly be a perversion of justice, those rioters under eighteen will be treated as if they too are the victims of the very crimes they have commited, as this is the ethos at the heart of the youth justice system. … Within a few weeks many of these rioters that you are now watching loot, burn and terrorise on a twenty four news channel will be on an Intensive Surveillance and Supervision Programme [ISSP], where they will spend the majority of their ‘sentence’ being escorted to gyms, adventure centres, DJ courses and having their lunches bought and paid for and they will even be given the bus fares to attend their ‘punishment’. There will be a minimum of community work as part of their ISSP and in some parts of the country the Youth Offending Service will fail to implement this part of the ISSP. …

Another part of their ISSP will involve them sitting in on classroom based sessions where staff will ask them what feelings they were experiencing prior to setting their community alight and how best they could channel those feelings in the future. We may even get them to do some ‘poster work’, as I have heard it referred to, where they will draw and colour in examples of criminal behaviour just in case they were not aware that torching local businesses and throwing masonry at the police, fire brigade and passers by were indeed criminal acts.

Feel, draw, color in.

When this is the system charged with preventing youth crime is at any wonder we have such high rates of recidivism amongst the more serious of young criminals? Many of the rioters you see on the streets will have been through this sytem. They know there are no real consequences for their actions and thus they behave in the manner we are now viewing.

These disturbances are not political in nature, or as a result of one ethnic group feeling disenfranchised. This is a rainbow coalition of the underclass, all shades and colours are present on the streets. If it was political in nature the main targets of the rioters would be the state … [but in these riots] the perpetrators are more concerned with acquiring the contents of high street shops. These riots are purely criminal and materialistic in nature and it is the state and its failed social policies that have bred the savage and feral mentality of the perpetrators as well as tying the hands of the police from taking the kind of swift and robust action to deal with the situation.

When wetting criminals and louts is seen as a step too far on behalf of those charged with protecting us is at any wonder we fear another night of chaos?

We hope they get to take the pencils and stuff home with them when the punishment session is over.

Footnote *  David Cameron, now Prime Minister, famously urged his fellow Brits some years ago to “hug a hoodie”.


Post Script: Iran has told the British government it should stop using violence against  the rioters. However restrained and gentle a Western government might be it can never be gentle enough to meet the standards of Iran.