This weekend, Londoners have been rioting, and the police were unable to control several streets. Why? This is not a rhetorical question, and I am not asking about tricky issues like the best way to calm down angry mobs. I’m talking about force. When the Met knows where to expect trouble, it can put down a riot. I’ve seen it with my own eyes, around the Israeli embassy and Chelsea FC. In fact, people usually don’t start trouble at all when they are surrounded by horses and vanloads of cops in armour. But if they do, those cops can charge in like a medieval army.
Around the city this weekend, the trouble arrived before the police. Was that why it could not be controlled? Or were the police too polite to treat looters as they would football hooligans? My guess is the former, but I just don’t know.