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Tuesday, September 06, 2011

Met Considers Additional Riot Training

The Met Police is considering more intense training for officers in general following the ghastly riots in August.

Tim Godwin said the number of police given specialist "level 2" public order training could rise to 6,000.

Mr Godwin openly admitted that the force had made a mistake in the chain reaction of the police shooting in Tottenham of a man whose death sparked last month's disturbances.

Regarding riot training, he said: "Looking ahead at what might come in the future, I think we're going to need to increase it."

He said that 43 of the force's officers had received commendations for their "extreme bravery" and 282 had been injured.

But Mr Godwin also rejected suggestions that his commanders had used the wrong tactics or were lacking specific tools, such as water cannon or baton rounds, also known as rubber bullets.

Tim Godwin: "Sometimes you suddenly realise how thin the blue line is"
"We had a full range of tactics," he told MPs. "It was purely numbers [of officers] that was the inhibitor."

"Baton rounds were available but I think we would have been having a different conversation [if they had been used and people had been injured].

"I take pride in the fact that we filled up prison places instead of hospital beds, and I think that's the British way."

Mr Johnson declined to agree with the prime minister that police had got their tactics wrong.

The mayor said lessons could be learned with the benefit of hindsight - but disorder had been contained.

The mayor and the Met's acting chief echoed Justice Secretary Ken Clarke's views that the riots were the legacy of a broken penal system.

Mr Godwin told the committee: "I think this is a wake-up call for the criminal justice system.

"We have in London been seeking to speed up justice, make it more relevant, make it more relevant to communities, and that's something that we need to do.

"The amount of people who have previous convictions does pose questions for us."

Giving evidence to the Commons Home Affairs committee, Mr Johnson said that the Metropolitan Police and the city's authorities had been completely surprised by the scale of the disorder in August that spread from one incident in Tottenham to other boroughs.

"I think with 20/20 hindsight people may feel that it would have been wiser to upscale the police presence.

"But if you look overall at what the police did on [the first] night and on successive nights and what they are doing now … the riots were contained and there were remarkably few casualties"

During the emergency recall of Parliament last month, Prime Minister David Cameron told MPs that there had been far too few police on the streets and they had used the wrong tactics.

Asked by the committee if he agreed with the prime minister, Mr Johnson said: "It's self-evidence that there was a difficulty, a crisis, on the Sunday and Monday that caught everyone unawares."

Mr Johnson compared the scenes in London to those in Paris six years ago. He said that the police had to rely on emergency powers to restore order in the French capital - whereas the British approach had ended the disorder within a week.

The Metropolitan Police has told the committee in a letter that policing the disorder cost £74m and they now have 500 officers working on investigations.

The force also said that its commanders took the decisions to increase the number of officers deployed over the course of the disorder and later informed the home secretary and prime minister. The decision to increase numbers had been taken before police chiefs met ministers in an emergency Whitehall meeting.

(Source - BBC)

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