Violence was a disgrace

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EDITOR – I join with my honourable colleagues in condemning the violence we have witnessed on the streets of the capital and elsewhere.

It has been a disgraceful outbreak of criminality that has shamed this country both at home and abroad.

But more importantly, we need to ask what are the lessons to be learned from these disturbances and how might we respond to them effectively in the future.

A large part of the crisis is that our state apparatus appears to lack the confidence to exercise authority swiftly and decisively.

This isn’t the case in other countries. Just look at France where, at the slightest sign of unrest, the CRS are deployed in significant numbers.

I don’t doubt the capabilities of our police forces, but it is claimed they were ordered to maintain a softly-softly approach to the looters, and there are numerous instances of their standing by idly while private property was attacked.

I welcome the Prime Minister’s assurance that these criminals will be identified, arrested, and face the full force of the law.

But so often the splendid work of our police has been undermined by judges who blame social causes rather than the individual actors.

We need serious and meaningful sentences to be served in prisons that are serious both about punishment and about rehabilitation.

This requires the elimination of drug use, of physical violence, and of sexual abuse from our prisons. These are not high ideals but basic principles.

It was heartening to see that, despite the worst ravages of fire, looting, and violence, ordinary people came and stood together to stand up for their communities.

The spontaneous clean-up operations are to be commended, and are another example of how British people are up to the challenge of running their own lives and not having the State run it for them.

What this country needs is a real cohesive spirit to integrate Britons of all ages, colours, and creeds. These marauding criminals clearly felt no attachment to or respect for the communities they attacked.

The Coalition, in some respects, has tried to begin the work of repairing our country after a long period of misrule.

We should concentrate on making the United Kingdom a shining light to be admired and emulated, rather than throwing our weight behind idealistic and costly crusades to introduce the wonders of British ineffectiveness, indecision, and instability to the rest of the world.

EDWARD LEIGH

MP for Gainsborough