For Uniform Public Service Tutors - London riots: the relationship between the government and its ministers and the police

A spokesman for the Prime Minister, David Cameron, has been reported as saying "We are very clear that those responsible for that violence and looting will be made to face the consequences for their actions."

For those of you who may be thinking of worthwhile introductory activities with new Public Service students in the coming weeks, you may like to consider reports of the recent London riots and the subsequent violence and nights of looting as a subject for discussion and debate amongst new students. Some of your students may be on the course as they see themselves joining the police.

Such reports may serve as a timely reminder about the need for discipline and training as well as the support and trust of the public. Others issue include:

  • The question of the government’s response;

  • What role is Theresa May expected to play?

  • What role and responsibility does the Acting Metropolitan Police Commissioner have?

  • How does the London Mayor Boris Johnson fit into the scenario?

  • Is this an operational policing matter or does it go further than that? Reports suggest that too few officers were in Tottenham on the night in question – similar accounts have emerged at previous protests in London over tuition fees;

  • Will these events and others such as the phone hacking scandal and the Metropolitans response and involvement, affect the public and student’s perception of the police and the work they do?

  • Are the riots symptomatic of racial and social tensions and conflicts operating in the communities? Are the police responding appropriately? Or are they too heavy handed?

The discussion and debate could be linked to challenges facing other services which students wish to join. Alternatively students could be asked to produce a series of questions about the riots which, given the opportunity, they would ask members of the police service or government and other parties caught up in these disturbances.


Any discussion or debate could also be enhanced by students researching photographic images beforehand, portraying the riots and their aftermath and the various interests affected by them – police, public, property and business owners, rioters and others as well as political and community leaders. Such images might be helpful when considering those affected and the messages they may be sending out to the country and the outside world as a whole.

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