LONDONERS think the police should have gone in much harder against rioters and looters during this summer’s disturbances, according to a new poll for the BBC .
Three-quarters of those surveyed called on police to use water cannon (72%) and curfews (78%) if riots break out again, half (50%) want tear gas to be sprayed and more than a third (38%) believe police should get the guns out and fire rubber bullets.
In other findings from the poll for the Inside Out programme (broadcast tonight at 7.30pm on BBC1), more than half (55%) of respondents want police to close down social network sites like Facebook, Twitter . and Blackberry’s BBM while riots were taking place and nearly two-thirds (62%) felt that people should be allowed to use violence to protect their property during a riot.
Police defend their approach to the riots on the basis that they were themselves under threat during the chaotic scenes in August and that by capturing looters on CCTV, officers have rounded up 3,000 rioters, many of whom will see jail time. Indeed, sentences for looting during the riots have been much higher than for normal theft.