The Sketch: Police revealed the disturbances were in the eye of the beholder

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The Independent Online

Every now and again you get a One Foot In The Grave moment and wonder whether Britain is getting more like the way the Daily Mail describes it.

The police officer who runs Nottingham told the Home Affairs Committee that TV pictures of the riots were regrettable because the "constant images of burning buildings provide a context of fear and uncertainty and disorder". Odd how burning buildings do that.

She also said they didn't have "riots" in Nottingham. They were "violent disturbances". When asked by Keith Vaz whether she was trying to "play down" the event, she said: "The term 'riot' can be damaging presentationally".

New Labour has an awfully long tail, doesn't it?

So, no riots, and no looting. The shops that were broken into and goods removed – that was burglary. The five police stations firebombed – that was criminal damage. For a riot, there had to be a group of 12 or more people at it.

And they only had groups of "generally 10, or a few more". It depends who you count in the group, doesn't it? A group of 22 rioters can presentationally be two groups of 11 criminals.

But to the question, "Were the police overwhelmed?" the officer said: "The whole city was overwhelmed."

And was there any sense of the police standing back? Very far from it! The proof was in the aftermath. In "a growing sense of support for the police". And the "outpouring of gifts". It was "humbling".

I suppose the people who were protected by the police were grateful.

Those who were left to the looting community don't have a mechanism to express their disgust at a dispirited bunch of flatfoots who've had the stuffing knocked out of them by a generation of customer-focused ideology. One chief constable said that without "positive intervention" those convicted "will be our customers again and again".

The proof that they're not "customers" lies in the fact that the police want fewer of them.

The men from the social media came to discourage talk of closing social media down during such emergencies.

They said that digital traffic was a useful form of intelligence for the police (well, it should be), and that one click could reassure all friends and family a user was safe.

The rage of anxious mothers will surely keep the networks open against any political will.