Daily Archives: August 9, 2011

Riots in Bromley? It’s hard to imagine. Yet, last night, a few young people threatened to bring havoc to a borough that traditionally has one of the lowest crime rates in the capital. You can see here an extraordinary video of the looting of the Nugent shopping centre.  Fortunately, the incidents yesterday were limited in scope and isolated. But there is no room for complacency.

I spent part of the afternoon with the Orpington local Safer Neighbourhood Team, which is bracing itself for a repeat performance tonight. Now that the mob has done the capital’s bigger high streets and now that the police are out in force in the city centre, the fear is that secondary targets, such as Bromley, Beckenham and Orpington, will become the next front line.  Read more

Boris Johnson in Clapham

Boris Johnson addresses Londoners in Clapham

Jim has written on this blog before about the general sense that Boris Johnson will win next year’s London mayoral elections. He is regarded as charismatic, charming and has managed to avoid any serious misstep while serving as mayor. More importantly, Ken Livingstone is seen by many as yesterday’s man, having previously done the job for eight years.

But the London riots have the potential to change all that. While Boris was away on holiday last night, Ken was allowed to dominate the airwaves, securing a prominent slot on Newsnight in particular, where he blamed the government’s cuts for the violence.

Boris has now returned, and addressed people on the streets of Clapham. But he struggled. Almost drowned out by heckling, he defended his own response and that of the police to Monday night’s riots. Read more

There were no recalls of Parliament for 9 years – and now David Cameron has carried out two in two months.

Since 1948 there have been 24 events leading to Parliament being recalled to debate matters of grave importance. Most have involved foreign affairs – although the Queen Mother’s death makes a surprising appearance.

Here is a link to the Parliament website where it has the full details, including precise days – and more background information. (My colleague James Blitz points out that only once before has this happened in August – and that was in 1968.)

September 1949: Devaluation

September 1950: Korean War

October 1951: Prorogation – followed by dissolution

September 1956: – Suez Crisis; Cyprus

September 1959: Prorogation – followed by dissolution

October 1961: Berlin Crisis

January 1968: Government expenditure cuts

August 1968: Czechoslovakia, Nigeria Read more

The number of police on London’s streets tonight will hit 16,000, with the Steve Kavanagh, a senior Met officer, warning of possible “mass disorder” to come.

I have just returned from a press conference with Kavanagh, the deputy assistant commissioner, and Simon Foy, the man leading the criminal investigation. We are starting to get a clearer picture of what happened across London on Monday night, and have learned that a man shot in Croydon last night during the violence there has now died.

Kavanagh’s main message was that the Met had not failed, but had been “stretched to an unprecedented level”. He claimed the intensity and scale of the violence, coupled with the rioters’ speed of movement, had never been seen before in the UK, or even Europe. Read more

Reeves furniture store in Croydon

A burnt out furniture store in South London

David Cameron clearly felt something extra was needed this morning to reassure Londoners and the British wider public that they would be safe in the wake of last night’s riots.

Having flown home early from holiday in Italy, the prime minister has just given a press conference outside Downing Street and did his best to sound tough and in charge, without actually giving us much of an idea what the police can do to stop a fourth consecutive night of violence.

The main tactic will be a major increase in the number of police on the streets, from around 6,000 to 16,000. That will help, but lots of those will come from outside London, so won’t know the cities as well as the locals they are facing. In addition, nobody quite knows in which boroughs violence is likely to flare next. Read more

UPDATE: 11.07am

David Cameron has issued a statement on the steps of Downing Street, attacking the “thugs” responsible for the riots and announcing that 16,000 officers will be on the streets tonight. (Up from 6,000 last night)

He has also confirmed that Parliament will be recalled for one day on Thursday. He has described the riots as “sickening”, talked of his “huge sympathy” for the victims” and praised the “incredible bravery of the police”.

Parliament is to be recalled on Thursday for MPs to discuss the situation in Britain’s inner cities. The news was first tweeted by George Pascoe-Watson, former political editor of the Sun. I’ve just had confirmation from another source. I’m told the government will make the announcement later today. How many MPs will be annoyed that they will have to break off from the beach?

(Some have already welcomed the idea, including Paul Flynn, the Welsh Labour left-winger, who called it “the correct choice”. Others disagree, including Labour’s Jamie Reed, who Read more