It would appear we are not the only ones concerned about future disorder on the streets of Britain. ComRes released figures this week from a poll of MPs taken last month. The poll of some 151 MPs found over half of them believe that the events of August will not be unique in this parliament - a worrying statistic.
While I obviously welcome their recognition of the seriousness of the situation some of us cannot help but feel somewhat vindicated. Long before this August many in the policing family were warning of impending violence. In several meetings with members of the Home Office I and my colleagues warned of disorder on the streets. In meetings with MPs we were accused of scaremongering. I even gave a presentation at our annual conference on the potential for disorder to the tune of "I predict a riot"; thus no-one can accuse us of being cryptic. Yet we were still rubbished.
However in conversation with various MPs throughout all three party conferences our warnings at last seemed to be getting through - and these statistics bear that out. If anything was demonstrated to our delegates at the conferences it was how important dialogue is and how dangerously far it has degraded of late. Dialogue is always a two way street and we have learnt some lessons, however it is my hope that the Members of Parliament, who were good enough to meet us, have also learnt the importance of listening to the voices of experience. When we warn of social breakdown we do not say it flippantly, when we warn that the thin blue line is getting thinner we don't say it out of hand.
When Boris Johnson addressed the Conservative Party conference he said "as long as I am mayor I will not allow police numbers to fall below a level that I believe is safe or reasonable for a great city." We at the Federation welcome his robust declaration, however when watching Bernard Hogan-Howe address the Home Affairs Select Committee earlier this week he warned, in his matter of fact way, that if there is "less budget" expect to see "less officers"; alarm bells should be ringing.
Thus with some 55% of MPs fearing future chaos on our streets you would hope some serious questions will be asked of the future direction of our police force and the potential impact of the Coalition's far reaching cuts and top down reforms in such uncertain times.
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