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MPs to probe police riot tactics

MPs have asked the country's most senior police officer for more details about how anti-riot tactics were developed amid an ongoing spat between the police and the Government.

The exact timing of the decision to almost treble the number of officers on the violence-hit streets of the capital is among questions being put to Scotland Yard chief Tim Godwin.

Members of the House of Commons Home Affairs Select Committee are due to meet the Metropolitan Police Acting Commissioner privately on Tuesday as they begin a detailed inquiry.

Sir Hugh Orde, the president of the Association of Chief Police Officers who has joined Mr Godwin in public criticism of ministers, is also due to be present at Scotland Yard to give evidence.

Questions put to both men in an advance letter include several seeking to clarify what was decided at a meeting of the Government's emergency committee Cobra on Tuesday.

The top-level gathering was chaired by Prime Minister David Cameron who had flown back from holiday in Italy and who afterwards announced the surge of police numbers.

His subsequent criticism of the initial police tactics has led both officers to speak out publicly, Mr Godwin complaining of confused messages from Parliament and hurtful attacks.

Sir Hugh has gone further, branding politicians an "irrelevance" in how the riots were policed.

Home Secretary Theresa May retorted by saying it was her job to tell the police what the public wanted them to do - which at that point was to go in harder and in greater numbers.

In the letter to Mr Godwin, the Labour MP who chairs the committee, Keith Vaz, asked him to say who made the surge decision and whether it was taken "before or after the Cobra meeting".


From Belfast Telegraph