UK cops fear another wave of riots?

Last Updated: Wednesday, July 4, 2012 - 23:33

London: British police fear a second wave of riots across England and are concerned they may not have the resources to cope, according to a new analysis of the 2011 unrest.

Many police officers from all ranks expect a repeat of the riots that spread across London and other towns in England last summer, and feel they may not be equipped to cope, the analysis by the London School of Economics and The Guardian says.

One of the key findings is that police forces across England did not know how to respond to social media networks, particularly encrypted Blackberry Messaging, which enabled rioters and looters to organise and at times outmanoeuvre police.

Control rooms were also swamped with intelligence from the internet and unable to sort rumour from fact on Twitter and Facebook, leading to mistakes when deploying resources, the analysis says.

Police of all ranks told researchers that they were astonished no colleagues were killed during the last year`s riots.

Nearly all of the officers interviewed described the riots as the greatest physical and psychological challenge of their careers.

Professor Tim Newburn, academic head of the analysis from the LSE, said: "August`s riots stretched the police service very seriously indeed. In terms of officer numbers, our research suggests the police outside London were largely able to cope - albeit only just, in many cases ? but in the capital for three days there were simply too few resources."?

He added: "The issue of police tactics is more complex, not least because tactics varied somewhat from force to force and area to area.

"In contrast to the considerable criticism aimed at the Met, elsewhere our research found a real sense among police that their actions had been widely seen as both effective and largely understood."

According to the analysis, police of all ranks were shocked and surprised by the extent and nature of violence directed at them, as well as the speed with which it escalated in August 2011.

Police officers generally believed that, should further riots occur, greater numbers of officers on the ground were far more important, and likely to be more effective, than introducing new water cannon or using plastic bullets, the LSE said in a release.

PTI



First Published: Wednesday, July 4, 2012 - 23:33

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