It’s time that we gave some power back to the police

COMMENT: Sell alcohol to kids and you will face consequences

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It’s 2011, but scenes reminiscent of 1981 flash across my TV screen. A Royal wedding followed by riots with buildings on fire, masked youths in the street throwing stones and petrol bombs at police dressed in full riot gear.

It’s interesting how events 30 years ago are now being mirrored in 21st century Britain.

The 1981 riots were blamed on years of racial tension and, two years into Margaret Thatcher’s reign as prime minister, tough policies were kicking in and hurting the nation.

The present coalition government’s austerity measures are having a similar effect. So is it all a coincidence? Are the cutbacks to blame?

I think not. Many lessons were learned three decades ago, including getting young people into training and then employment. Many of us undertook YTS jobs – I know, because I was one of them.

This time around it’s different. I think one of the main problems is that of communication, plus the fact that many people have little or no respect for authority.

Yes, the police should be more open and talk more to all communities so that officers are part of the fabric of their lives. This for me would breed more trust.

But these days many see the police as a soft touch. You can talk until you are blue in the face, but if gangs want to riot, loot and burn down buildings, as they have done for centuries, then they need to know they will face the full force of the law.

So as much as the police need a more friendly face, they need to be given back their power.

If these rioters were treated as robustly as happens in many other parts of Europe, I’m sure they would think twice before causing such civil unrest.

They should also be left in no doubt that, if caught and put before a court, they will face a stiff sentence.

So yes to more jobs, better training and opportunities for people, of course.

But you can create as many jobs as you want, yet if certain members of society want to riot, they will.

So when they do, I say we need a police force properly equipped and fully empowered to protect all of us and our livelihoods.