Harrow News August Disorder - Police Interim Report

30 November 2011

New Scotland Yard

The Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) today, Wednesday, 30 November publishes the second part of its review into the August disorder.

Main findings

"Today's interim report is part of our commitment to being as open as possible"

1. The events of August 2011 were unprecedented in the Capital's history. The initial peaceful protest in response to the fatal shooting of Mark Duggan escalated to violent local protest and on to London and countrywide public disorder. The speed, geographical distribution and scale of this escalation set these events apart from anything experienced before.

2. Community engagement was seen as an immediate priority following the fatal shooting of Mark Duggan. The specific activity undertaken by Haringey Borough following the incident was comprehensive and strenuous in its efforts to ensure effective communication was instigated across the Borough. The MPS used its existing community contacts to seek information regarding community tension and to consult on the policing style to adopt. As soon as police became aware of family and community concerns regarding communication, direct liaison with the IPCC was undertaken to relay these concerns.

3. Analysis to date of the feedback and information from the community suggests that either the violence was spontaneous without any degree of forethought or that a level of tension existed amongst sections of the community that was not identified through the community engagement process.

4. During the operational response to the disorder resources were allocated proportionately across London, determined by information and intelligence. Resources were activated and deployed in line with mobilisation plans. However, in hindsight, the numbers were not enough and they did not arrive quickly enough to deal with the speed with which the violence escalated and its spread. In addition, MPS processes of resource control meant that not all officers were deployed as effectively as they could have been.

5. Police successfully took preventative steps when intelligence was available that indicated disorder, including cancelling Hackney Carnival and deploying officers to Oxford Circus, Westfield and the Olympic village.

6. Intelligence gathering systems could not cope with the scale and speed of the spread of disorder. The sheer scale of the information flows, communication requirements and co-ordination of resources posed immense challenges for those in the Operations Room, particularly on Monday 8th August.

7. The MPS acknowledges that there are examples of the public feeling let down where police were not immediately able to come to their aid or prevent the destruction of property. This was because there were not enough officers to deal with the unprecedented scale and geographical spread of the disorder.

8. There is in excess of 150,000 hours of CCTV to be viewed in relation to criminal offences - the scale of which has presented challenges but still enabled over 3,000 arrests and over 2,000 charges.

9. The MPS coordinated the investigation of all crimes committed during the disturbances under Operation Withern. The attrition rate for these investigations is 5% compared to a criminal justice service average of 20%. To date 729 cases have been completed at court. The criminal justice partnership response was successful and the quick processing contributed to a strong deterrent message.

10. The MPS has received 4,500 claims that meet the criteria for the Riot Damages Act and is endeavouring to progress them as quickly as possible. It is anticipated that the first payments will be made in December.

Ways in which the MPS is responding

1. Reviewing MPS community engagement processes and contacts.

2. Developing an accredited public order trained group of intelligence and investigation specialists who will manage fast developing intelligence arising from public order situations or perform the lead role of investigating large scale disorder.

3. Reviewing the level of resource required under mobilisation plans and how officers can be deployed in a more agile way. Changes have already been made to the way in which public order officers are mobilised. The MPS is also looking to expand mobilisation plans to include specialist officers, logistical services, Metropolitan Special Constabulary (MSC) and police staff.

4. Evaluating new technology for the Command Centre to assist in the co-ordination of resources.

5. Reviewing alternative tactics to deal with large scale disorder, including options for the use of water cannon. The MPS has increased the number of officers trained to deploy with baton gun teams so that teams can be deployed more flexibly if and when required.

6. Developing a CCTV strategy that will cater for any future London wide incident and exploring what can be developed, with appropriate financial investment, regarding further CCTV and facial recognition technology.

7. Considering whether a request for additional public order powers or a review of other legislation may be beneficial in dealing with large scale disorder.

8. Professionalising the police use of social media both as an engagement and an intelligence tool.

Assistant Commissioner Lynne Owens said: "The disorder in London in August presented the MPS with significant challenges. It is important for our communities, and our brave officers and staff, that we review what happened very thoroughly. Other organisations are currently publishing their reviews of the August disorder and we are also co-operating fully with them and taking their views into account.

"Our own thorough review continues to be a significant undertaking and today's interim report is part of our commitment to being as open as possible so that the public, our partners and the MPS can understand what parts of our response worked well and what we are doing to improve where we need to."

The ongoing review aims:

'To develop a detailed understanding of the MPS response to significant public disorder in London between Thursday 4th August and Friday 19th August 2011 in order to inform future policing operations, by ensuring organisational learning is recognised and developed for the future. This learning and the subsequent costed plans will be shared promptly, as appropriate, with key internal and external stakeholders.'

The review will deliver a final report in late December where further details will be outlined. However it should be noted that any changes will be implemented as they are identified so that any learning is progressed as soon as possible.