Car Loot Sale
Monday, 08 August 2011
Looting and disturbances have broken out across London on Sunday night, after Met' Police allowed it for hours on Saturday night.
Whilst fires burned in Tottenham on Saturday looters took the opportunity to break into shops in a nearby retail park. Plasma TVs, computers, sports goods, and whatever else they could find were ferried away before the thieves returned to load up their cars again.
Meanwhile, the police, dealing with the riots and arson in progress in Tottenham high road, failed to respond to this blatant criminality, and allowed the wholesale looting of a nearby business park. It is not known why the Met' Police, one of the biggest forces in the world, were unable to attend to both situations, but it seems they were unprepared for the possibility of such unplanned demands on their resources.
Criminal gangs across the capital saw this window of opportunity and inspired by the police inaction, staged copy cat looting on an industrial scale across the capital, in what amounted to coordinated attacks on retail premises. The police were unable to respond to all the retail parks targeted and it was an open day on retail premises. A super market sweep for electrical goods and sportswear.
Dianne Abbot, shadow public health minister, was highly critical of the police response, "I was astonished that people were allowed to loot freely not for ten minutes, not for half an hour, but for hours and hours. I do not understand why the police allowed it to happen."
The Met' Police responded by saying that they had to prioritise resources, and focused on the risk to life over the risk to property. They also said they had three times more officers on duty on Sunday than is normal, and will increase policing levels further.
However Dianne Abbot responded, "The met police are one of the biggest police forces in the world. The idea that they could not be in two places at once, that they could not be in Tottenham and in Wood Green Shopping Centre is not a credible idea."
What is clear is that once an atmosphere of lawlessness has been established, it is never going to be possible to police the whole capital to physically prevent such a crime wave.
Less Jasper, a race equality campaigner, shamelessly claimed that the looting was a response to tuition fees, the discontinuing of payments to 16 and 17 years olds in full time education, and 'criminal levels of unemployment' which he claimed was rising and was caused by coalition policies and represent a form of violence against the people who carried out the looting.
Funding for higher education has been an issue for some time, as most young people now study for a degree. In response to this tuition fees were introduced by Labour to get a contribution to the cost of their education from the beneficiaries, but even with these fees, Universities were having to spread the same funding amongst ever more students inevitably diluting the education delivered. An independent review was instigated by the, then Labour, government as a recommendation to spread the cost more equitably between the beneficiary and the tax payer, by increasing the tuition fee to £30,000.
In response to this and the budget deficit left by the last government, the coalition government has announced plans to increase tuition fees £11,000 a year with the balance being paid by the tax payer. Liberal Democrats managed negotiate generous student loans to cover this cost made available to ensure that all students could afford to go to University. Previously only wealthier students could afford to pay the fees. The loan system has also been changed so that loans only become due to be paid back once the graduate earns more than the average wage, effectively guaranteeing that students are always better off than the average tax payer. However a campaign was launched by interested parties to transfer the cost of their education to the tax payer, who on average earn less than the graduates who would benefit from such a change.
At the same time, the government has made education compulsory to the age of 18 to ensure that young people are better equipped to work in the new economy where education and skills are more important than in the past. They have removed the incentive payments, introduced for 16 and 17 year olds to encourage them to continue their education. Child benefit will still be paid to their parents to support them in the same way as younger children.
Unemployment did rise under Labour during the recession, but as the new government's policies have come into effect, unemployment has been falling. The recovery however is sluggish, and economic confidence remains low, especially in the face of government deficits and sluggish economies throughout the western world.
Standards of living in inner city areas are much higher than they were in the past and few people feel that there is the same kind of social deprivation which triggered unrest in the 70s and 80s. However, the re-introduction of random stop and search by Labour in the wake of the "7/7" terror attack, and efforts to stop the wave of gun and knife crime which has tainted London over the last ten years, have clearly alienated some people, who feel that they have been racially targeted.
Stealing Plasma TVs is not the act of socially deprived people, it's theft. And burning people out of their homes is not an act of protest, it's an act of unmitigated violence.
Groups of rioters are congregating in Hackney and Lewisham. A lorry has been attacked, and a bus has been hijacked and positioned across the road as a barricade and police have formed a line outside the historic Hackney Empire theatre. Croydon is on fire.
Organised gangs are moving fluidly around London, setting fires and looting, then moving on to a new location before the police arrive.