Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 27 August 2014

Met 'did not control London riots'

A police chief has blamed people 'copying' violence in London for sparking the Manchester riots
Greater Manchester Police chief constable Peter Fahy said he did not regret sending officers to help in London

A chief constable has risked the wrath of colleagues in London after he suggested Manchester could have been spared the August riots if police in the capital had acted sooner.

Greater Manchester Police chief Peter Fahy told BBC Panorama that copycat violence broke out after people saw rioters were "getting away with" their behaviour in the capital.

Mr Fahy said: "A certain group of people saw what was happening in London and decided they seemed to be getting away with it. The authorities weren't in control and they decided they wanted their opportunity."

He told the BBC One programme he did not regret the decision to send 100 officers from Greater Manchester Police to help deal with the situation in London.

"We knew what was absolutely critical was that there needed to be control of London. Because that was just creating more and more copycat violence up here."

Mr Fahy added: "I think you'd have to say with hindsight if London had been under control sooner we probably would not have faced the problems in Manchester."

Mr Fahy's remarks sparked an immediate defence of the actions of the Met by Paul McKeever, chairman of the Police Federation of England and Wales.

"I think any police force in the world would have found it extremely difficult to cope with the rapidly escalating violence that we experienced in London," he said.

He added: "Peter Fahy is a man who is held in high regard and respect and somebody we should listen to, but the officers in London did a magnificent job, putting their lives on the line to protect their communities.

"It took 16,000 officers to actually get the riots under control and there were officers from all around the country. I don't think anybody expected to see the disorder escalate so rapidly and become so widespread. I am sure it is not Peter Fahy's intention to criticise officers who policed the riots in any shape or form. I would suppose that he is trying to make a serious statement."

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