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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

I will come to my question in a moment. If noble Lords look at the Order Paper, it refers to comments and questions, and I am coming to my question.

Policing has had to change remarkably in the face of social networks and the speed at which these disorders have taken place. My question is about baton rounds and whether the command officers in place were acting timorously or reluctantly. Baton rounds have been available to the police in this country for 30 years. The lack of deployment of that means of dealing with riot is in stark contrast to the bravery, which has already been alluded to by various Members of the House, of the police in dealing with it. If I am right in saying that senior officers were timorous or irresolute, was it because of the confusion in the mind of society about what it and the Government want? We now have calls for robust policing that are in stark contrast to recent comments about the so-called provocative uniforms worn by riot police, kettling, what happened at the G20 and so on. There are examples of robust policing. One has only to look to France to see what the CRS does. There are no shrinking violets there. But I do not advocate that we move that far along that road. Can the Minister assure me that there will be a speedy debate about exactly what robust policing means, what society wants from its police in these circumstances, what it will tolerate, what it looks for and what it does not want? The lack of application by some senior officers in deploying what they had within their lockers indicates to me that the confusion has gone too far and needs to be addressed.