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.)