As the repercussions of last year’s riots continue to ripple outwards, the Metropolitan Police have embarked on a mission to train more officers in dealing with any repeat rioting.
The Met were criticised at the time over lack of officers and vehicles to contain looting and violence — in Clapham there were just eight officers available which led to police withdrawing from the area and allowing rioting to continue unabated. In the aftermath, the police took the opportunity to draw up new rules of engagement around policing and civil unrest. New Met Commissioner Bernard Hogan-Howe told the London Assembly police and crime committee:
“On the Saturday night we’ve accepted from the beginning that we didn’t have enough police available to deal with Tottenham High Road. We’ve got significantly more police officers available to deploy, we’ve tested that.”
We’d love to say that these are extra officers and local policing won’t be affected but we can’t — Hogan-Howe also warned that numbers would fall while training was being given but it’s all for the greater good. Recruitment was also on the agenda at the committee and the commissioner said that the Met mustn’t disregard graduates in favour of promoting from the ranks of PCSOs.
Now that the Met’s performance is within City Hall’s remit, the mayor is responsible for overseeing the force’s strategy; though just last month he was criticised by electoral adversary Ken Livingstone over a 1700-strong dip in the capital’s police numbers. Brian Paddick, however, advocates recruiting local communities to fight crime.