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Those responsible for tonight's violence must be brought to justice - and they must not be allowed to win
08/08/2011 22:11:00

 
 

I was at the AGM of the South Norwood Residents Association this evening. As I drove home, I saw several plumes of smoke rising from Croydon town centre. Given what's happened elsewhere in London over the last two days, I feared the worst and sure enough when I got home and turned on the TV I saw the shocking pictures of Reeves, a family business that has been in Croydon for generations, burning to the ground. My heart goes out to the residents whose homes and businesses have been devestated by this mindless criminality.

Tomorrow morning, I will have to explain what has happened to my eight year-old son. He will ask why. What can I tell him?

The initial information I have received is that those who started the trouble weren't from Croydon. They have no stake in our town's future, though that hardly explains their actions. But we have to face the sad fact that some Croydonians joined in. We have to ask some tough questions about why it is that some people quickly resort to criminality when public order breaks down - questions about parenting, family breakdown, education, respect for authority, peer pressure but also about our divided society, about what life is like for many young people in our city.

However hard times might be though, whatever grievances people feel they have, there is no justification whatsoever for looting and arson. I have heard unconfirmed reports that some people were throwing stones at firemen who were trying to save people's lives. People who behave in this way aren't protestors, they are thugs pure and simple. They must be identified and brought to justice. There are lots of CCTV cameras in central Croydon so there will be plenty of pictures. I hope those who recognise someone will contact the police. And I hope that when the courts sentence those who are found guilty they will reflect the public outrage about what has happened in the severity of the sentence.

The Prime Minister is right to cut short his holiday. I am a big supporter of his. I want him at his desk co-ordinating the Government's response. And I want reassurance that the Metropolitan Polce and the London Fire Brigade have sufficient resources to ensure that this criminality stops tonight.

Croydon is the only home I have ever had. For the last 13 years, I have devoted much of my life to trying to make it a better place for people to live, working alongside politicians of all persuasions, public servants, businessmen and women and members of Croydon's vibrant community and voluntary sector. Tonight, in just a few hours, a few hundred people did their worst to undo that work. They must not be allowed to win.

Comment on this blog

 

Readers' Comments

On 09/08/2011 01:43:00 Anthony Miller wrote:
Unfortunately made the mistake of driving into town

so got a bit uncomfortably close enough and

saw lots of riot shields and smelt the burning

as I drove past the Whitgift center

but the really scarey thing is it isn't just Croydon.

Stopped off at Sainbsury's in Selsdon later

Had been ram-raided ... the police were already there

but as we made our get away a gang of young men

seemed to be advancing towards them ...their faces covered.

Of course they may just have come to watch but I wasn't stopping round to find out.

I did what any responsible citizen would do - wind up the windows and step on it.

Another place we stopped saw shop windows smashed.

I have to say I'm not looking forward to going out

tuesday or wednesday night. It's the feeling of

paronoia that is nasty - everywhere you see a

group of people on the street you think what are they up to?

Pissed off too because I usually sell lots of tickets

in August due to everyone else closing for the fringe

but who's going to go out at night with this going on?

Moreover some of this has got to be coordinated by professional criminal elements.

And that's very sinister ....indeed.

 
On 09/08/2011 08:58:00 Jim wrote:
I'm afraid there is no chance they will be brought to justice. We have police that are afraid to arrest people because of the paperwork, a CPS that downgrade charges, courts that are forced to give discounted sentences, and prisons that let people out early.

People smoke cannabis on the buses - nothing happens. East Croydon tramstop has no smoking signs - but people will happily smoke next to a couple of policeman who will do nothing. People drop litter in George Street - whilst every couple of hours some bloke paid for by ratepayers will come along and pick it up. Kids get let off for shoplifting, so it's hardly surprising that the same kids a few years down the line enjoy a night's looting.

We must have the softest system in the world and respect for the rule of law broken down. Nobody would dare drop litter in Singapore or set cars on fire in China. We are an international laughing stock - I received emails this morning from several friends overseas asking what was going on.

Ken Livingstone made an idiot of himself on the TV last night. Theresa May put in a pretty lame performance on the radio this morning - difficult when you're dealing with the BBC and their politically correct agenda. Edwina Curry is the only politician that has made sense to me so far (and some of clips of Norman Tebbit from the 1980s).

So, please, no more politicians praising the emergency services and condemning violence, no more references to "community leaders", or discussions/enquiries (more money down the drain). No more "initiatives" in deprived areas. I don't care how rich or poor these people are, or whether they "come from outside". HM Government's primary duty is defence of the realm. People expect their property and their personal safety to be defended. After 140 years paying business rates, Reeves deserved a lot better.

Time for *real* action and *real* solutions, I think. Not sure David Cameron has the stomach to stand up to the apologists and human rights lobby.

 
On 09/08/2011 23:24:00 Anthony Miller wrote:
Well, here's a thought

If you wanted to start a radio station you'd have to have a licence, if you wanted to use a CB radio you'd need a licence. If you want to put on a gig or arts event of any scale that isn't stand up you need a licence.

Yet platforms like BBM allow multiple user broadcast in real time not just to multiple users in any location but on an encrypted channel that can only be interrogated and unencrypted by outsider agencies days in retrospect.

So why dont you need a licence? It's a legal loophole/anomoly?

If as a promoter I book acts who incite violence against others on stage I am criminally liable whether or not I can actually control what said act said because I am the one financing the platform - in this case a physical platform ...rather than a wireless one. Surely it should be the same for BBM and it should be the same for Twitter and then they'd be much faster to cooperate with the police rather than releasing grudging releases only when their brands are seriously threatened. They say they can't do anything but I reckon if they were facing criminal charges for incitement they would start finding solutions fast.

 
 

 

 

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Gavin Barwell, 133 Wickham Road, CR0 8TE, Tel  020 8663 8741      © Gavin Barwell  2017       Promoted by Ian Parker on behalf of Gavin Barwell, both at 36 Brighton Road, Purley, CR8 2LG