The London riots

11 August 2011
A week of riots, 5 dead, and a hike in insurance premiums in the pipeline. A police force like the LCPD and a croud like Rat Boy. And this is even before government cuts have started to kick in..


While the country has a serious problem in that it enthusiastically chases up minor transgressors while at the same time giving a seemingly relatively easy ride to people who make a career of it, I do not believe leniency is the root cause of any disregard for deterrence. Racial profiling. People from families where the rate of beatings bares little resemblance to whether they actually did anything bad. Police forces that have reputations for corruption, looking after their own kind, chasing targets, and outright malice. The view that authority is simply not objective means that they have no concept of a link between what they are doing, and what could happen to them as a result.

Policing also has a lot to answer, as it is much part of the problem as part of the solution. CCTV & databases does not stop a brick flying into someone's face, yet that is where the investment is. It does not matter that Mark Duggan was being arrested for gand-land crimes. What is known is that he was killed by the police, and last time that happened all that happened was the Met got prosecuted for Health & Safety violations.

Deliberate overstretching

With reports of some rioters going around the country, there seems to have been at least some effort to put as many police forces on high alert as possible. In Bristol gas mains were lit, but very little confrontation with the police (unlike earlier riots). Places braced for a second night of trouble barely heard a squeak, whereas previously quiet places erupted. While this is partly a modus-operandi of those who just want to loot, it also recognises that it is not just London police who have issues with locals.

Getting noticed

The Guardian is pretty blunt: Some journos would not have been able to find places like Tottenhan Hale on the map until these riots happened. They are places most people would barely hear about, let alone care. Likewise student rioted because they had been sold out by both sides of parliament. Terrorism is all about bringing the violence home.

Poverty & Entitlement culture

Lefties complain it is about deprivation, whereas to the Right it is about ingrained entitlement culture. Both arguments are difficult to isolate given the wider range of backgrounds compared to riots such as Toxteth or St. Pauls, but both factors are part of the big equation. While stolen items were not essentials, they were not exactly luxuries either.

The anti-terrorism slant

No-one seems to have addressed this. Particularly in London you have this Report It campaign that encourages people to phone in even trivial information. Net effect: Treat people with suspicion. And like Nazi-era Shop-a-Jew or Stalin-era anti-revolutionary hunting, it is yet another fast-track to breaking down trust. Yet another nail in the coffin of involvement in the community.

The Blackberry curfew

It is not clear where the suggestion to shut down Blackberry came from, but it shows statist blanket actions at its worst. Blackberry down? Use SMS. SMS down? Use Internet. Internet down? Use CB Radio. And in the process you interfere unnecessaraly with millions of people's lawful activity. Government wheel out that it is a “small price to pay" for safety/security, but that is easy since they are not the ones whose livelihoods are on the edge and have just missed that critical job target. Heck, those who have actually been in that position are the least sympathetic to government stepping in.