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And there is news just in: warnings of gang warfare in Hackney. Former Met Police chief Lord Stevens, who is chairing a commission on the future of policing in England and Wales, has warned that protest and disorder are likely to become more common.
Today, the police have to struggle with the balance between being accused of acting too softly on protesters or too hard, both inside and outside London.
Who are we to tell officers to go and beat up some guy who has stolen a flatscreen TV?
I actually applaud the police for managing to restore order.
Inside the central London Special Operations Room (SOR).
This is the first time access has been given to the Gold Command Suite and to Gold Command meetings, and it took eight months of negotiation to get this far Amazed they have made it here, and barely able to conceal their glee, they gesture to the crowds below and throw a banner over the side of the five-storey building as they scatter across the cramped space.
One of the concepts of engagement is to be aware of situations when intervention might not be the best option. ‘As Sir Hugh Orde said about water cannon and baton rounds, they make good politics but bad policing.
‘If anyone or any group deviates off the march it goes to a geographic bronze.Eagles 1 and 2 – the helicopters – have public order commanders on board and if we see any spontaneous movement of people they can move resources from other commands to deal with the problem.’‘We were going through a stage of trying to do the job with as few people as possible,’ he says, ‘but after the riots we have got to make sure we have more than enough officers.Of course, there are funding implications with that.’He has worked with police forces at home and abroad and advocates a radical approach to policing public order – rather than stereotype protesters as inherently bad, he says the police need to interact with them as individuals, explain the boundaries and provide a proportionate response.If we had to deploy baton rounds to distance ourselves from the crowd I think it would have made the situation worse.’Denis O’Connor, Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector of Constabulary, in his report into the summer riots, also advocates the use of water cannon, rubber bullets ‘and potentially the use of firearms’ to deter looters and rioters.There’s a quiet hum inside the Special Operations Room with around 150 staff spread across 28 ‘pods’, each with multiple computer screens.