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Ealing and Northfield Policing

It has been riot week this week

On Tuesday the killer of Richard Mannington Bowes was named as Darrell Desuze. The teenager lives in Hounslow and has pleaded guilty to manslaughter.

On Wednesday the Metropolitan Police Service (the Met) issued their final riot report. The report has largely been ignored by the media or where it did appear journalists only wanted to talk about water cannon and rubber bullets. The Evening Standard ran with ‘Riot officers “feared for their lives”‘. The Telegraph chose to highlight Twitter in their headline. The Guardian was fixated on rubber bullets. The BBC ignored it altogether. Locally the online ealingtoday.co.uk news service was taken by talk of CS and water cannon but the Gazette failed to notice anything.

I spent a couple of hours reading the report last night. The report does say some sensible things about speeding up the Met’s mobilisation process and increasing the number of TSG (Level 3 riot trained officers in the Territorial Support Group) by 200 or 25% from 800 to 1,000 and increasing the number of Level 2 shield trained officers by 1,750 or 50% from 3,500 to 5,250. The report shows little sign of wanting to tackle terms and conditions of officers or provide a mechanism for calling up off-duty officers in emergencies.

The Met seems intent on sticking to a model where officers turn up for work following immoveable shift patterns and then officers deploy to trouble spots as required (but form up into their equivalent of platoons called PSUs at “forward mustering points” rather than at their home bases). The Met has tagged the words dynamic, agile and flexible to its “Service Mobilisation Plan” without changing very much at all.

Disappointingly in my view the MPS report fails to identify the total number of rioters – probably in the order of no more than 5-6,000. The Met itself employed 31,478 sworn police officers, 5,479 Special Constables and 3,832 non-sworn Police Community Support Officers as at the end of October 2011. That is a total of 40,800 frontline police officers. The report fails to adequately explain how a force of this size was bested by 6,000 youths (the report says that only 8% of those arrested were over 35).

Next week Ealing’s own cabinet will discuss the final version of Ealing’s own riot report. The cross party scrutiny panel that produced it had no problem putting their political differences aside and coming up with some sensible recommendations. Our first recommendation was:

The Panel recommends to the Metropolitan Police that it urgently reviews its deployment procedures to deal with fast moving multi centre public order events. The MPS must develop the capacity to expand rapidly, mobilising large scale resources at short notice to maximise visible Police presence. This review should include all aspects of current working conditions and practices.

Regrettably, the Met have failed to address this point properly.