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09 August 2011 | News | By: Rachel Holdsworth

London Riots Aftermath

Holy fuck. Anyone watching the news last night saw area after area of London get smashed up, looted and set on fire; rioters moving through postcodes and shops with apparent impunity. Eyewitnesses on BBC News reported, for example, looting in Clapham Junction going on for more than an hour, with a handful of police initially attempting to block a road but eventually giving up.

Police did attempt to form lines in certain areas but the mob moved so quickly and was so large that it is completely fair - and no criticism - to say the Met were utterly overwhelmed, having to bring in forces from surrounding counties to help them cope. Temporary Commissioner Tim Godwin says CCTV footage will be published in an attempt to identify individuals, but this might be interpreted by trouble-makers as 'cover up and you won't be caught'.

As a commenter on the Guardian eloquently pointed out, law and order isn't the responsibility of the police and politicians, it's the responsibility of all of us, and hundreds (thousands?) of young people in London have unilaterally decided to ignore the law. And the thing is, when the police can't keep up with them, when shops are left unprotected for leisurely looting, when buildings, cars and buses are set on fire and allowed to burn before the fire brigade can get there... right now, these rioters have removed their consent to be governed. In effect, the law doesn't apply to most of them. And that's scary.

What to do? This can't carry on until there are no more shops left to empty. Boris Johnson and David Cameron are back today, the latter due to chair a meeting of Cobra, the government's emergency committee. We have no idea what constitutes a legal state of emergency in the UK but this situation must come pretty damn close, and the prospect of having the army on the streets is one that the government must be considering. Given what happened last night, it may not be a bad idea. The post mortem of what made these people shuck off all regard for law, order and common decency can come later (it's easy to dismiss them all as morons, but there have been plenty of previous disturbances in London without escalation on this scale. Something's different. Or weirder) – right now we need this city making safe again.

Photo of the aftermath in Hackney by Sven Loach is almost here... from the Londonist Flickr pool

Rachel Holdsworth

Article by Rachel Holdsworth | 2,717 articles | View Profile | Twitter

tiredoflondon

Holy Fuck indeed, Rachel. Holy Fuck indeed...

darkverge

That's right. I say bring in the army. See how these thugs like going up against people who can actually whoop their asses without a second's thought.

killthem

Bring in the army and shoot the scum.

Jenny_1773

The police shouldn't be frightened for their careers in order to get this under control.

Rioters deserve everthing they get, Britain needs to stop with this softly softly human right approach and deal with thugs, what about non-rioters rights!

Test

Excellent article.  Sadly, the police don't need to 'form lines in certain areas' but rather need the power to take down and capture these individuals with the force needed to protect us.

Ben D

Yeah, i'm here in London visiting.  What exactly are these people protesting?  Or are they?

Ellinor

These thugs are youths of fifteen. Where are their parents??? I agree, bring in the Army.......sorry forgot the UK is so PC that the Government will be frightened of hurting these monsters!!! 

Syeda2k5

I witnessed the Hackney area, and it is very very sad to see this happening behind my own home, feeling unsafe because a bunch of black youths, teenage girls, white men thought it would be hilarious to create attrocoties for their own selfish desire to burgal shops in daylight. It's sad to see that the police took so long to contain the rioters, I mean kids were slipping away in side streets, houses. A lot of these thugs got away... Even a brave women tried her best to control the situation here is the Twitvideo link: http://www.twitvid.com/4JTZH, I feel very sorry for my local newsagent, small business and everything got ruined, looted. I believe Police Tear Gas should be used... It's either now or never... or we will be afraid to leave our homes like I am right now.

B.Milanovic

They didn't put my comment... SHAME ON YOU - WHO EVER IS ADMIN HERE. I said , police , and whole "safety department" is too spoiled to do their job in these situations. When you treat people like a crap , you get treated like a crap.We ,in Belgrade,when riots were smashing the city, solved ten times worse situation in 24h.Send us there. :D

Serbian Voice

PJ_BLANCH

The main reason the army should be draughted in is because everyone has upmost respect for the army and most youths of today have ZERO respect for the police especially when this whole rioting scenario is over and incident involving the metropolitan police. we do not need a massive amount of army one or two on every other shop doorway would be enough. The respect people have for the work done by the army in afghan is the reason this is a no brainer, drop the police in this situation and draught in the army with IMMEDIATE EFFECT!!!! YOU NEED SOMEONE THE YOUTH OF TODAY HOLD RESPECT FOR AND THAT IS NOT THE POLICE!!!!!!

PJ_BLANCH

Your missing the point serbian police is a NO CAN DO english army is a possibility, i know our police are HOMO'S as you put it but our army are not and yes peolpe do have respect for them. Ref the 99' thing things have moved on pal and this is not a war it is just gangs taking the piss out the system. so lets talk about the possibilities rather that the no can do's as the no can do's are a waste of time talking about to be honest!!! a pointless argument going on about serbia this serbia that!!!! get with the times!!!!!

Sarah_Gomez

Did you guys see this video of rioters deceivingly helping a bleeding guy up only to rob him.  These rioters are ruthless scum.  I really hope they get caught.:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?f...

http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/b... 

PJ_BLANCH

Forgive me for trying to think of solutions rather than reasons!!!!!!!!