Tuesday, August 9, 2011

London Bridge Is Falling Down

As the deadly London riots continue, Susie Madrak at C&L makes a startling point about the London riots: last year as the David Cameron government announced brutal austerity measures, the government assured critics that the cuts would have no negative impact on the country's ability to handle events like last summer's austerity protests.  Unfortunately, the opposite has been true this week.

In September of last year, the British Home Secretary Theresa May refused to accept claims by the British police that austerity cuts would affect their ability to contain civil unrest (h/t George Monbiot).
A look at an article from the Guardian reveals May's belief that British people simply did not riot:
The British public don't simply resort to violent unrest in the face of challenging economic circumstances. We must have a rational and reasonable debate about policing. Your association has a long and proud history of constructive and sensible contributions to policing policy-making – long may it continue.
May was speaking after the announcement of deep austerity cuts, that police officials predicted would lead to 40,000 police staff job cuts. May refused to accept this and told the police superintendents' annual conference:
I will work hard to ensure a fair deal for policing but there will, most definitely, need to be savings made. It is ridiculous to suggest that there are not savings that can be made in policing.

Tens of thousands of police staff cuts in a country of 62 million.  Multiply those numbers by five to get the American equivalent:  what if 200,000 police personnel were laid off last year in the US?   Don't you think that would be a major public safety issue?

There are roughly 800,000 federal, state, and local police officers in the US.  Think about what laying off 25% of all the country's cops would do for the crime rate.  The London riots are heartbreaking, but that's where we are.  What's more, Britons are screaming for a better, more robust police response.

Maybe you should have thought about that before making massive austerity cuts.  Just saying.

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