Sunday, 21 August 2011

Heddlu - Croeso to the streets of London

Police from Wales are patrolling London's streets. I first saw them in Bloomsbury Square. Their vans and police cars, marked 'Heddlu', Welsh for 'police', showed they were from Gwent.
   The Welsh officers are in the capital providing additional support to London's Metropolitan Police after the riots and looting that rocked the city a fortnight ago.
   South Wales Police sent 54 officers to London. North Wales Police sent an undisclosed number.
    London seems 'back to normal' again - although this is now an ongoing saga.  Later, I chatted with friends on Museum Street as floods of tourists ambled to and from the British Museum.  Only the Welsh 'Heddlu' officers appeared slightly out of place. 
   Friendly, they chatted with people, nodded and smiled as they ambled around on patrol. Some of them are big lads too. Probably, ex-rugby players, y'knoh! Oh cry-key!
   But they've received a warm 'croeso' ('welcome') from many Londoners. Partly because our own Met officers have been very busy - as this riot of stats shows. 
  Met police are investigating 3,296 offences that took place over 6-9 August, including two murders, 1,101 burglaries, 399 damaged vehicles, 310 thefts and 162 arson incidents.
 There are more than 1,110 crime scenes in 22 of London's 32 boroughs.
   Police are reviewing over 20,000 hours of CCTV footage. The Met has released 52 new photographs of people they want to interview about violent disorder in Southwark, Greenwich, Merton, Enfield and Hackney.
  To date, police have made over 1,800 arrests, including 396 juveniles. Almost 1,050 have been charged including 218 juveniles. 
  Prison numbers in England and Wales have risen to a record level of 86,931.
   The Guardian newspaper's analysis claims prison terms being given are on average 25% higher than usual. Some 70% of those coming before the courts are being jailed compared to 2% before the riots.
  For instance, Nicolas Robinson is frequently mentioned. Robinson, 23, stole a £3.50 case of bottled water from a Lidl supermarket during rioting in Brixton. He is now serving six months. 

Paul Coleman, London, August 2011.

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