Wednesday, August 10, 2011


London Riots: (left) fire at Sony Distribution in Enfield on horizon (right) Olympic Stadium
Many, many thanks to all those who sent me notes and left messages via Facebook or Twitter re the riots in London.  When I was very tired and emotional and not knowing quite what to do your messages were a real boon!

To be honest I can't actually remember the last time I was scared as I was on Monday evening when I heard there were youths coming down my road with steel poles.  The looting and disorder got very close to my front door but thankfully stopped short.

Initially I'd thought that living so close to the Olympic stadium would mean we'd be safe.  What I didn't realise was quite how matters were going to develop on Monday night and quite how many police would be needed to restore order.

For those who have not seen it before this is the map of the extent of the verified incidents mapped onto a map of deprivation in London.  It's very clear from this that huge areas of London which are deprived chose not to riot and that riots also occurred in leafy suburbs.

I'm very clear in my own mind that there is absolutely no excuse whatsoever for arson, burglary and theft.  To say otherwise is enormously disrespectful to all those who live in deprived areas and who are good citizens.

I'm very inclined to think that, whatever its initial cause, this very rapidly became about greed, teenage kicks and a mindset which assumed that nobody would catch them and no real sanction would be imposed.

All I can say is thank goodness for CCTV cameras and magistrates who are referring sentencing to the Crown Court since they can only impose prison sentences of up to six months.  Maybe that will get the message home.  Maybe that will become a real deterrent to any notion of repeating what happened this week.

This afternoon we went for a long walk round where I live - and the total absence of teenagers on the streets was very noticeable.  Maybe they're beginning to get the message that this time there will be no cautions.

One comment I got on facebook is I think worth repeating.  I won't repeat who said it as I haven't asked her - however I'm happy to attribute.
They hurt themselves, too, in the LA riots (and I will not dignify them by calling them by the PC term "civil unrest". The merchants simply didn't rebuild in the burned out areas. And then the residents complained that the good retailers were dissing them by not going back in. Well, duh. You can't force someone to rebuild when they know they'll eventually be burned out again. The insurance costs must have been through the roof. So who lost jobs, access to close by shopping and other aspects of the economic engine? They did, in the long run.

I've still got ears attuned to the noise from every siren and helicopter but hopefully we will be back to normal very soon and I can relax......

I think I might now go and unpack my bag and see what I decided was essential to take with me should I have to leave! :)

PS  I wouldn't mind in the least if that nice policeman in Manchester with the plain speaking and the action orientation came and ran the Met Police!

(Note:  The photo at the top of this post was taken by a friend who lives in a nearby tower block.  It captures the Olympic Stadium on the right - just a mile from us - and the smoke from the huge fire at the Sony Distribution Centre on the very edge of London which continued to burn on Tuesday afternoon.)


  1. All what has happened is pathetic. I am happy you feel better now and things are almost back to normal. It was a terrible time to be a Londoner!
    I have never felt so vulnerable in my life as I felt on Monday night.
    I am so happy things are settling down now.
    Thanks for your Google map entry that helped me so much to know where and when things were happening.

  2. I'm so glad to know things are settling down. I have had all of you there in my thoughts and worries. Stay safe.

  3. Glad you are safe and sound Katherine. Now comes the difficult task of feeling emotionally safe again. Just hearing about it thousands of miles away took me back to the riots here in the 70's and going to school with police in full riot gear roaming the halls. Even that didn't stop the craziness.

  4. Thankfully you and your family are safe. I have been watching all this because today my daughter is flying to Europe to go to London - Croydon next week for a conference. She is prepared to cancel and stay in Brussels, but hopes that won't be necessary. Unsettling times for all of you there.

  5. Re: the facebook comment

    Yes, I too remember the LA riots as a disgrace. And scary as it expanded outward from the epicenter.

    And the thing that stuck out was the (lack of) intelligence by the rioters... let's go out and destroy our own community. There were even some that took advantage it... getting themselves 'free stuff'.

    Some shop owners stood by, overwhelmed and saddened as they watched people who had shopped in their store as customers now running in to rob it. They did not rebuild their hard earned business', their own livelihoods, in those same neighborhoods. And who can blame them.

    Those rioting made claims similar to those in London but it had nothing to do with any statements, political or otherwise, they just wanted to destroy & steal what they weren't willing to work for.

    My sympathies were with those terrified, hard working people stuck in the middle who lost everything and were (are) decent enough people that they felt they had to be ashamed because of the actions of others.

  6. Those of us who've lived in London are all very preoccpied with what is happening. Any links to videos of the nice policeman? I don't think he's been on tv in Sydney.

  7. Nope - but it was ACC Gary Shewan talking in a press conference and filmed by the BBC. Very clear and direct messages about having the CCTV film and coming to get the rioters

    This is his Twitter ID!/ACCGarryShewan


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