Police blamed for failing in City riot

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The Independent Online
POOR DECISIONS by inexperienced senior officers commanding the police operation during anti-capitalist riots in central London last month led to a failure to control ferocious violence, a critical inquiry report said yesterday.

"Generic weaknesses" in procedures and systems in City of London police's operation led to a series of wrong decisions in tackling lawlessness which caused an estimated pounds 2m damage in the City, according to the damning report.

Headed by Anthony Speed, a retired assistant commissioner of the Metropolitan Police, the internal review of the June 18 riots during a Carnival against Global Capitalism, revealed that the control room co-ordinating police response was overwhelmed by information. Mr Speed recommends a joint City of London and Metropolitan police review of public order policing.

He also suggests protests of a similar nature "must henceforth be assessed as an inherently violent and criminal'.

On the day of the rioting, a peaceful protest in the morning erupted into violence after demonstrators, some drinking, began throwing bricks and other missiles at the police. Buildings were vandalised and a small group of protesters broke into the London International Futures and Options Exchange (LIFFE) where security guards had to fight off rioters before police arrived. One demonstrator was run over by a police van and a police woman was dragged from her horse.

Perry Nove, the Commissioner of the City force, accepted yesterday's criticisms and said the police's handling of pitched battles inside one of London's best known financial centres was "highly unsatisfactory".

He said that the events of June 18 revealed "a level and sophistication of planning not seen before. A level of gratuitous violence and criminality was unprecedented, unprovoked and unforeseen."

The report says that members of the public and City of London business community showed "dismay and anger" about police action during the day. The report also admits "regaining the confidence of business and residential communities will be difficult".

The report admits that police failed to provide external protection of the building despite it known to be a prime target. Neither did the police act swiftly enough once the situation began to degenerate. Mr Nove accepted the criticism was justified and that police action at the LIFFE building was highly unsatisfactory.

Police have arrested 42 out of 138 alleged rioters who were identified.