When I started this blog my plan was to keep it light-hearted, conversational. I didn’t want to get political. But over the past twenty-four hours I have been in the odd situation where local politics are difficult to ignore.
Last night I watched in disbelieve as the violence and fires in London spread from the centre and into the surrounding areas. Particularly worrying for us was the trouble in Croydon which is just over a mile away from my house. The activity was so close that when I turned off the TV, I could still hear the helicopters and police sirens. I was especially sad to watch the Reeves’ business burn down on Reeves Corner; it had been there for over 100 years.
Today I heard reports that the violence has now spread to my home town – I mean, what is going on here? I live more than ten miles south of London in a middleclass suburb.
Friends and family who live and work locally were being sent home early. The business centre where I work in South Croydon has been forced to bring security on site to mind the gates. And people were being urged to go home early. So it seems that the minority of people who are contributing to this have successfully managed to detrimentally affect the mainstream.
The spreading riots clearly have nothing to do with the original protests in Tottenham a few days ago. Now it seems to be about nothing more than criminal damage and looting. And by and large the perpetrators appear to be kids and teens. Some as young as eleven have been held by police. Tonight the BBC News reports that 16,000 police officers will be deployed on the streets of London, drafting in support from 30 forces. I’ll be interested to see if their tactics have changed. Hopefully a more robust approach will be adopted.
After the tuition fee protests I understand why the police aren’t taking a more aggressive approach, but I wonder how communities are going to react if the situation gets worse and the police aren’t available to intervene. Will people stand up to protect themselves? I for one hope so.