...The One-Minute Pundit
Tuesday, August 09, 2011
The Beeb's Europe editor:
It is useful to compare the European approach to disorder with that in the UK.
Two recent conversations with UK-based TV producers surprised me. Both had covered protests in London. One was at a weekend when some demonstrators had got inside the Fortnum and Mason food store in Piccadilly.
Afterwards the producer described mobs attacking shops. The strange part was that for long periods no police were to be seen. The rioters had the streets to themselves.
A second conversation related to the day of student protests that resulted in a partial occupation and attack on political offices at Millbank. The police intelligence seemed negligible and for long parts of the afternoon they were outnumbered and ineffective.
I had been involved in the coverage of G20 protests in the City of London. They are remembered for the death of an individual at police hands. But leaving aside that tragic incident the approach of the police was to stand back, photograph incidents and then investigate later. The tactic was to contain rather than be pro-active.
In the current crisis many people are asking why the police stood by when violence and arson was happening around them?
The outnumbered can guess.