London riot report points to police intelligence failings

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London Riots

London Riots

Intelligence-gathering systems at Scotland Yard could not cope with the scale and speed of the disorder that spread across London in August, according to an interim report .

The Metropolitan police did not have enough officers on the streets and did not deploy those they did have quickly enough, the report by the force said.

It said the Metropolitan police service (MPS) was reviewing the use of other tactics to respond to public order events, including water canon.

It also revealed that the force has increased the number of officers trained to fire baton rounds, so teams could be deployed more flexibly.

Senior officers are also considering whether they should seek more powers to deal with large scale disorder.

Assistant commissioner Lynne Owens said: “Our review continues to be a significant undertaking and today’s interim report is part of our commitment to being as open a possible so that the public, our partners and the MPS can understand what parts of our response worked well and what we are doing to improve.”

The report said the Met planned to develop an accredited public order-trained group of intelligence and investigation specialists to manage fast developing intelligence from public order situations as a result of the failures it has identified.

The report added: “The MPS acknowledges that there are examples of the public feeling let down where police were not immediately able to come to their aid or prevent the destruction of property. This was because there were not enough officers to deal with the unprecedented scale and geographical spread of the disorder.”

The Met, however, defended its community liaison and borough response following the shooting of Mark Duggan – the event that sparked the rioting in Tottenham, north London.

Despite widespread criticism that a swifter, more sensitive response to the family and local concerns could have defused tension, the Met said “community engagement was seen as an immediate priority”.

“The specific activity undertaken by Haringey borough following the incident was comprehensive and strenuous in its efforts to ensure effective communication  … across the borough.

“The MPS used existing community contacts to seek information regarding community tension and to consult on the policing style to adopt.

“As soon as police became aware of family and community concerns regarding communication, direct liaison with the IPCC [Independent Police Complaints Commission] was undertaken to relay these concerns.”

The Met said it was still analysing why the rioting occurred. It was either “spontaneous without any degree of forethought” or there was tension among sections of the community that was not identified through the community engagement process.

The report said that as well as improving the intelligence gathering, changes have been made to the way public order officers are mobilised to make the response more “agile.”

Owens has already stated that the Met could train up to 10,000 officers in public order to ensure it is not left under-resourced again.

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