I read today that police have arrested three men in ‘dawn raids’ in connection with violence at the FA Cup semi-final match between Millwall and Wigan. One suspect is photographed being dragged into a police van. Why ‘dawn raids’?
And why were the media in attendance (or if they weren’t, why were the police taking pictures)? These are innocent people, until a court decides otherwise.
I wonder if the stage management was an attempt to restore a little credibility after the police were heavily criticised for allegedly not doing their job properly at Wembley. According to reports, they did not arrive on the scene early enough in the second half as the violence escalated.
The Metropolitan Police has got form here. Ludicrously, the police also rose with the lark to swoop on journalists arrested over alleged illegal payments to public officials. Yet Cressida Dick, assistant commissioner for specialist operations, insisted on that occasion: ‘We genuinely try to carry out these arrests in a low-key manner and as swiftly as possible.’ Really?
This kind of ‘laura n’ order’ grandstanding ought to make us all very uncomfortable. Perhaps you remember the incongruous sight of Boris Johnson attending Met raids on London burglary suspects. The mayor was greeted at the address of a suspected drug dealer with the words: 'What the f*** are you doing here?' A fair question.
Someone should tell the Met's spinners that law enforcement is not a branch of the reality media industry. With police numbers slumping in London amid deep cuts, perhaps the force should fire a few public relations panjandrums and hire a few more bobbies instead.
Paul Rogerson is Gazette editor-in-chief
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