|Ealing Riots - Evidence of Broken Britain?|
Leader of the Conservatives Councillor David Millican reports
The Riots, Communities and Victims Panel (RCVR) was established by the Prime Minister, the Deputy Prime Minister and the Leader of the Official Opposition as a truly independent panel. Darra Singh, who knows Ealing well, as the former chief executive of Ealing Council and is now chief executive of Job Centre Plus, chairs the RCVR panel.
Ealing Council’s Riots Scrutiny Panel is also independent, as it has no in-built controlling Labour majority.
Whilst Ealing’s Cllr Shital Manro opened the meeting, it was actually run by Darra Singh, with his usual aplomb. He explained that his panel had three objectives for the Ealing meeting
We heard evidence from the probation service, the police, the youth offending service that most perpetrators were adults, most were from outside the borough and many were unknown to the authorities.
There was evidence presented by three school age students from Southall representing Ealing’s Youth Council, by business traders, the trade unions, special interest groups and many residents. There was testimony from those caught up in the violence. One explained how her flat had been burnt out by fire and was struggling with her insurance claim. But the most moving testimony came from one TV documentary maker, who lives near Haven Green, who told how he helped the murdered victim of the riots, and praised the police for their professionalism under extreme pressure.
There were apologists for the violence, who blamed excesses of the bankers and MPs and the government. Whilst there were fewer, who blamed the violence on naked criminality, they did receive louder applause.
Met Police Commander Christine Jones, who is responsible for policing across Ealing and 6 other London Boroughs, told the meeting that the world had changed for the police that night. The contract with the public meant that they needed to be more embedded in the community. A Rubicon had been crossed, she said. Ealing’s Borough Police Commander, Andy Rowell, said that they had established a permanent investigation team and they had already cleared up 60% of the offences.
It is important that such public meetings are held, so that local people can express their views; but one wonders whether the Singh panel members or Ealing’s scrutiny panel members are really any closer to understanding the reasons for the violence. Did they really come away knowing why the riots had started, and in Ealing, and how they could be stopped?
Maybe we know many of the answers already. Perhaps there is some truth in a “Broken Britain”; rewards without responsibility; family breakdown; selfishness; moral decline. I look forward to reading the final report from the Singh panel.
Conservative Group Leader
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18th October 2011