As the rioting continues for a fourth night, a YouGov survey has found that there is widespread support among for a range of tactics to be made available to the police. Our nationally representative survey of 2,534 British adults provides the first look at public opinion on the unrest, rioting and looting that has spread across England in recent days.
9 out of 10 respondents (90%) thought that the police should be able to use water cannon in the course of dealing with rioters. The potential use of other tactics also proved very popular with mounted police (84%), curfews (82%), tear gas (78%), tasers (72%) and plastic bullets (65%) all attracting support from a large majority.
In addition, a third (33%) thought police should be able to use firearms / live ammunition to deal with the riots, while over three quarters (77%) supported the involvement of the army in quelling the unrest.
Public opinion is divided over how the police have dealt with the situation up until now. While a majority (52%) felt that the police were dealing with the situation either 'very well' or 'fairly well', a sizeable minority (43%) thought they were dealing with it either 'very badly' or 'fairly badly'.
Politicians fared substantially less well in the eyes of the public. Just over a quarter (28%) felt Prime Minister David Cameron was dealing with the situation well, compared to a majority (57%) who felt that he was dealing with things badly.
The results for Home Secretary Teresa May and London Mayor Boris Johnson were similarly negative, with 58% and 54% respectively thinking they were dealing with the situation badly.
In the longer term, the public were sceptical that those taking part in the unrest would be punished. More than two thirds (67%) believed that a majority of those rioting will 'probably get away with it' while a further 18% felt that most or all would escape punishment.
Over one in five (23%) expect the riots to last until the weekend while a similar number (21%) believes that they will continue beyond then.
It is clear from the data that a majority of the population feels that politicians have handled the unrest badly so far. There is also significant support for making a wide range of new tactics available to the police. However, this is clearly a rapidly changing situation and at YouGov we shall continue to monitor public opinion to investigate how things develop.
Full results for the survey are available here: http://today.yougov.co.uk/sites/today.yougov.co.uk/files/yg-archives-pol-sun-riots-100811.pdf
All figures, unless otherwise stated are from YouGov Plc. Total sample size was 2,534 adults. The data has been weighted to be representative of the British adult population as a whole. Fieldwork was undertaken between the 8th and 9th August 2011. The survey was carried out online.
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