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ast month I watched, like so many others, in horror as riots and looting disrupted the


streets in London, Birmingham and Manchester. As small public disorder turned into widespread mindless violence and criminality many people watched as their homes and livelihoods were destroyed. On seeing these events my first priority was to


contact the police in Watford to ask about the efforts being made to prevent violence spreading to the town and what plans were in place to deal with it if it did. They were able to quickly reassure me and the Mayor, who had also made enquiries, that adequate plans were in place and that they had already taken some preventative action. I was particularly impressed to learn that that


all special constables — voluntary officers — had agreed to work that evening alongside other officers on their shift. In the end there was very little disruption and this was in no small part due to the number of police on the streets; the strong relations between residents and the police and very good community relations. In some areas I heard that local residents were making tea and sandwiches for the police standing on the street. Once the initial violence had ceased, attention


turned to Parliament, which was recalled to discuss how best to deal with the aftermath and work to ensure that it could not happen again. I returned to Parliament on this day to join this debate which focused on two main points; firstly had the police responded in the right way and whether this level of policing could be sustained and secondly how should those involved be punished. On the first point the Government agreed that across the country the police had worked


tirelessly in the face of such difficult circumstance and that special powers would need to be granted to allow them to effectively tackle similar events for the future. I know that people have also been concerned


that changes to policing budgets would mean that there will be fewer police on the streets, however in Hertfordshire the police authorities have been able to reduce their budgets without damaging the numbers of police on the street and I am confident that they can maintain the low levels of crime we see in Watford. I used this opportunity to ask the Prime


Minister that those convicted of crimes during the riots should receive the tough punishment that such crimes deserve. He agreed with me that it is critical at this time that justice is done and for others to see that there are repercussions of crime.


‘In some areas I heard that local residents were making tea and sandwiches for the police standing on the street’ In the longer term we all have to address the


root causes of the violence and do all we can to engage people in society and will welcome full and open discourse in Parliament on this matter. As always I am here to discuss any issues, help


with any problems and listen to your concerns. If you would like to write to me, call me or arrange a meeting please get in touch. All of my contact d e t a i l s a r e o n my w e b s i t e www.richardharrington.org.uk. For up to date news you can also follow me on twitter at @richard4watford. Whatever your question, concern or problem I look forward to hearing from you.


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