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The sacrificial van

Posted by Richard Thursday, April 28, 2011



There has been some speculation about the Land Rover Discovery and trailer abandoned by the police during the riot in Bristol last week. Police vehicles being trashed by the crowds is such a feature of recent disturbances that we wondered whether they were being left deliberately as "bait", to give the police meaty charges when they picked up the culprits.

However, some would suggest we need to discard the conspiracy theories. Avon & Somerset Constabulary hierarchy simply do not have the brains to dream up something that complicated. Their procedures are confined to lining up their plods in neat little rows and beating the citizens of Bristol brainless (that, in itself, not always a very difficult undertaking) when they come close enough to hit.

Others might argue that the most likely reason we can discount a Machiavellian plot is because vehicle and trailer were owed by Wiltshire Police. Even if they are thought to be in the race to the bottom with rival forces - their senior officers competing to see who can discard most brain cells, fastest - it is unlikely that they would want to make a gift of this Disco to Avon plods. It turns out that it is a nearly new vehicle and the combined value of the ensemble is estimated at £100,000 (presumably including the goldplated iPlod).

Nevertheless, you might think that leaving an expensive plod-mobile, with a trailer full of kit, unattended in a riot zone, is a tad stupid. That impression might be reinforced when they leave it with no police protection at all, next to a store which has been the target of protesters. You might even argue that in the race to prove themselves even more cretinous than, say, Cressida Dick, Wiltshire plods have won hands down. But that is where you would be completely wrong. Not even they could be that stupid.

Besides, the police themselves would doubtless deny that they are as stupid as they look. Such claims, they would say, are a major slur on the professional reputations of a fine body of men and women. Every one of the 60 plods supplied by Wiltshire to help create this riot were highly trained officers, with salaries and pension rights. They were disciplined, higher beings. And they were working to The Plan devised by highly intelligent superior officers, promoted on merit and further trained in Staff College, their intellects honed to the razor-edged sharpness we saw displayed last week.

Thus, leaving this vehicle unattended in a riot zone was not what you think. It is an example of ultra-professional community policing. As such it clearly demonstrates the value of the huge public investment  made in training police officers. Only thus equipped would they be confident in using such advanced techniques in circumstances such as these.

Shame on you for not recognising superb policing when you see it. It just goes to show how ignorant you all are.

COMMENT: BRISTOL STOKES CROFT THREAD