London Riots: Police chief praises community for help

Havering’s police chief was “sickened and appalled” by the riots on Monday night but praised the help of the community.

Chief Superintendent Mick Smith met with business leaders, councillors, and community groups at Central Library today (Thursday, August 11) to reassure them about the police’s work surrounding the riots.

The meeting came after a week of high police presence throughout Havering in response to the London riots.

It saw some damage in Romford town centre on Monday night, but he reassured people that the actual crime in the borough was no more than an average week.

Ch Supt Smith, who was an officer during the Brixton and Tottenham riots in the 1980s, said about the London riots this week: “I was appalled and sickened. I have never seen anything like it in my 29 years of policing.

“But believe me there will be a concerted effort to deal with everything robustly that we come across.”

Ch Supt Smith praised the community for their help and support adding, “I want to express my sincere thanks to people in Havering. Some of the information we have had from the public including youths has been invaluable.

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“A lot of the intelligence we have been getting is from youths.”

Police said they started receiving information on Monday afternoon about potential riots and cancelled all officers’ annual leave.

Instead of the usual 60 to 80 officers on patrol up to 250 greeted any potential troublemakers entering the town and dispersed any trouble before it started. About 60 youths were in Romford town centre, but Mr Smith said most of these were there to spectate.

He said the police numbers will be maintained over the weekend and until Tuesday when it will be reassessed.

He did advise against any people patrolling the streets themselves, and said this would only hinder their work and asked parents to help the police by knowing where their children are at all times.

He added that police had not issued any advice to businesses to close at any time, and although it was individual business owners’ choice to do so, by closing it would add to the perception of trouble.

He reassured people by added: “There is no intelligence to suggest anything is happening in the borough.”