In an exclusive interview with FIRE's sister publication Policing Today, Police Federation Chairman Paul McKeever has discussed UK policing's response to the recent civil unrest, and his hopes that the situation will cause the government to re-think its plans in terms of budget cuts. 

He also talked about the Home Secretary's recent decision not to meet with him. Talking about the rioting and looting, he said: "The scenes we've seen over the past three or four days have been absolutely appalling - the worst anarchic criminality in my memory. I've been a police officer for 34 years and policed the riots in Brixton. I've not seen anything like this.

"The criminality is not as a result of alienation or oppression - you only have to go onto Twitter or social networking sites to see that this is seen by those indulging in it as a binge of criminality. It's something they're enjoying and celebrating, and nothing to do with how they feel at all. This dispels the myth that some people want to portray about why these people go out and try to commit these sort of acts. It's nothing other than wanton destruction and criminality.

"In the short term, we have to stop that. Government has to make sure we get their full backing, and the courts have to make sure that these people go to prison. In the medium term and the longer term, clearly there has to be analysis of how we've got to where we are. In dealing with the rioters - and they're rioters, not demonstrators - the use of force at an early stage is something that is right and appropriate when dealing with rioters.

"One of the things that is apparent speaking to my colleagues that are on the front line putting their lives at risk to protect the public that we care about so much, is that they're fully aware that if they do use force, they'll be subject to a more rigorous investigation and scrutiny than those who they're trying to prevent committing this disorder. That has to change because it's inhibiting us doing our job effectively.

"In the longer term, we have to ensure that there are sufficient resources and police officers in place to deal with this rioting. I'm sure the government will be reviewing their low prioritisation of policing and the cuts that we face. If they're not reviewing it, then I'll be astonished. Like a scientist whose theories have been completely de-bunked by the realities that have been exposed, I hope they don't cling to their policies. If not, I don't know where we go.  

"Obviously we want to work with government to help with the serious disorder in any way we can. We put the request in to put forward the views of 140,000 officers and it was turned down. I don't know what the reason for that was, and it would be wrong of me to speculate."

Posted Aug 10 2011 at 1255 by Phil. Comment by emailing: