British Police Faced ‘unprecedented Situation’
August 12, 2011 by UPI - United Press International, Inc.
LONDON, Aug. 12 (UPI) — Home Secretary Theresa May didn’t have a role in the aggressive tactics police used to squelch rioting across Britain, police chiefs’ leader Hugh Orde said.
Orde, president of Britain’s Association of Chief Police Officers, said the tactics were more robust because more officers were made available during the days of looting and violence that plagued London and other cities beginning Saturday, The Guardian reported Friday.
“The more robust policing tactics you saw were not a function of political interference; they were a function of the numbers being available to allow the chief constables to change their tactics,” he told the BBC.
May, he said, had “no power whatsoever” to cancel all police leave, Orde said.
Orde said police faced an “unprecedented situation, unique circumstances” when rioting and violence erupted following a Saturday protest in a London neighborhood over police shooting and killing a man.
“The fact that politicians chose to come back [from vacation] is an irrelevance in terms of the tactics that were by then developing,” Orde told the BBC.
Cuts to police budgets “inevitably” would lead to cuts in police forces, he said.
“We need to have some very honest conversations with government about what we stop doing if we are to maintain frontline service delivery at current levels,” Orde said. “It’s the 20 percent cuts in the present spending period that will lead to less police officers — we should be very clear about that.”