Former policeman’s view on the riots

The recent displays of mob violence and police ineffectuality are the fruits of the last 14 years of meddling in exactly what the police can and can’t do by people who should have left well alone.

If you want a poodle then buy one, but don’t buy a Rottweiler pull all its teeth out, have it neutered and then complain that it’s lost its aggressive edge.

When I joined the police in 2004 we were constantly told “if you have to draw your baton, you’ve lost the argument” and it was hammered into us relentlessly that “excessive force” would result in suspension, dismissal or even imprisonment.

Our training consisted of one hour on how to use pepper spray, four hours on use of the telescopic baton and a total of six weeks on Race and Diversity.

My first week’s training touched only on R&D and the Human Rights Act. It was three weeks prior to my first active patrol before I even picked up a truncheon.

The police have been made to feel fearful of using any force whatsoever and we are now witnessing cops who have been trained to “engage with the community” and use the “conflict resolution model” to talk someone down from heightened aggression to meek compliance.

Shifting emphasis to these methods was always dangerous and inappropriate and now the public are seeing first hand what happens if you make police officers fearful of using anything except an open-handed shove to the chest, accompanied by the shout of “GET BACK!!!”

The case of Ian Tomlinson at the G20 last year has had many officers in official briefings this week asking for written guarantees that they would not face suspension or prosecution if they hurt someone while on riot duty.

Apparently these guarantees were not given.

The rioters know that the police are reluctant to touch them and that the courts will almost certainly be lenient with most of them (if they are ever successfully prosecuted). These two elements combined have meant that feral, opportunistic criminals now roam the streets taking whatever they please, knowing that the police are still “hands off” even in this extreme.

I have nothing but contempt for our various governments’ meddling in how the police can operate and also for the majority of police senior management for not having the backbone to stand up to this type of thing and say “enough is enough”. Conversely I have nothing but respect for police officers themselves and would go back straight away to help quell the riots if I was asked.

What we are seeing is NOT the police’s fault. It is the result of forcing bobbies to feel guilty about using any force at all and trying to convince everyone that the majority of chavs just need a hug and some guidance.

Guidance to the nearest PC World maybe.

We have now reached breaking point for the myth of Dixon of Dock Green. Something has got to give. Hopefully it won’t be the officers’ desire to remain in the force after this has blown over. - Lance Manley LLB (Hons)

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