We have all been deeply shocked and angered by the events of the last few days. But what action should we take to deal with the immediacy of the crisis and to consider preventing a repetition?
I broke my holiday on Monday morning to return to my constituency and have discussions with police and community leaders in the three London Boroughs that I represent (Hackney Islington and Waltham Forest). I raised a number of concerns, witnessed MPS senior staff willing to accept outside help and was inspired by the commitment from all the parties to want to move forward together. Some had seen it all before and thought they would never witness it again; others were shocked to see for the first time scenes more redolent of an urban war zone.
It is easy to assume we have some quick fixes. There has been much criminal activity and the police will, quite rightly, investigate that thoroughly. But there are broader and more complex issues here. My position is this:
Enforce the law -- people I have spoken to do not want any 'no-go' areas for the police in London; criminal behaviour must be dealt with using the full force of the law
Let the IPCC do it's job -- we argued for this body to exist as an alternative to the police service investigating itself. They need time to assemble the facts surrounding the death of Mark Duggan and to make recommendations
Adopt economic policies that support local people -- the recession has left some people facing real hardship and there are concerns about social dislocation. We need policies that will enable investment and growth, rather than a focus on what will be the next area to be cut
As the violence extends for a third night, covering more and more parts of our city, we have moved well beyond the death of Mark Duggan and the peaceful protest led by his family and friends. I have had pleas from at least two separate quarters for the introduction of water cannon; I fear that we may soon start to hear demands for the army to be deployed. Those on the streets will not win -- but they make us pay a very big price for their defeat.
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