Wednesday, 10 August 2011

Pray for Rain

Another night of rioting and looting brings the inevitable question, when will this all end? The destruction of property and disturbances to normal shopping patterns will do nothing for an already fragile high street. London was quieter, but presumably that was due to an extra 10,000 bobbies on the street. We can’t do that indefinitely!

I spoke briefly last night to the former PR Officer for Manchester City Council, now retired, who was around when Moss Side kicked off in 1981. For anyone under 40, the summer of 1981 is not even a distant memory, but the parallels are there for all to see.

Rioting started in the St Pauls area of Bristol and quickly spread like a domino effect to Handsworth, Brixton, Toxteth and finally Moss Side in that order. Then, as now, politicians were quick to rush to the scene, and my friend was forced to organise an emergency press conference for the then Home Secretary William Whitelaw.

Prior to the press conference starting, he asked a senior Greater Manchester officer what the plan was for that night? All leave cancelled? Extra police drafted in from other forces? The army?

The officer was quick to answer. “We’ll beef up our presence but the best policeman we can have tonight is rain. People don’t riot when they have water running down their neck!”

Amen to that!


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