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Public Disorder — Statement

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 1:15 pm on 11th August 2011.

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Photo of Lord Dear Lord Dear Crossbench 1:15 pm, 11th August 2011

My Lords, we have been completely bombarded with images on television and in our newspapers over the past four days. The most significant one that I saw was the image of a woman jumping from a burning building into the arms of a police officer. But for that police officer she would undoubtedly have been very seriously injured or would have died on the pavement on to which she jumped. It is, it occurs to me, to the police that one finally entrusts one's safety when all else has failed.

I welcome the Statement by the Prime Minister today, which is obviously wide-ranging and perceptive and will deal with a whole range of issues. Has the education system failed us? Are broken families really at the root of all this? Why is there such a diminished respect for authority? Is materialism playing some part in that? And where on earth have standards, ethics and morality gone in our society?

In the short time that I have at my disposal, I want to look at the short-term issues. That cohort of disaffected people, most, but not all, of whom are young, who we have seen on television, who are now going through the courts and who concern us so much, will be with us for a very long time. Some of them are, whether we like it or not, past recovery. Many of them have children who are probably going to be brought up in entirely the wrong environment. So what does one do when, as a police service, one faces the prospect of a repeat, perhaps not on such a wide scale as what we have seen in the past four days or so, of the same sort of behaviour?

Policing has had to accept an enormous change within the past 12 months.