Malcolm Wicks, MP for Croydon North, has called for an inquiry into the riots which engulfed the borough and other parts of London earlier this month. Croydon suffered devastating damage to businesses and Wicks said it was important to know if the riots could have been prevented.
Wicks was particularly critical of the decision, by senior Metropolitan Police commanders, to call the Croydon police chief, Adrian Roberts, to Scotland Yard, leaving Croydon “rudderless” as the riots broke out. He said: “It is therefore imperative that Croydon Council should establish an independent enquiry so that lessons can be learned. How did the police and the Council react? Was there effective leadership and co-ordination? These are the questions that require investigation.”
A council spokesman said: “Our focus at this time continues to be to help the individuals, families and businesses in our community who have suffered from the terrible events earlier this month. The Prime Minister has announced an inquiry will look into the events which affected large parts of London and other major cities across the country.
“We will give our full support and backing to that because, like everyone else, we are determined to discover what caused so many people in many parts of London and England to inflict such terrible damage.”
The Metropolitan Police was criticised for its tactics during the riots after it was reported that the police were told to stand back and at other times did nothing to help as rioters looted local businesses.
However, there are those who question what the local enquiry will achieve? Liz Tuffey, manager of the Ship of Fools pub on London Road, which was affected by the riots said: “At first, I was angry and didn’t think they did enough but when I look at the bigger picture, I don’t think they could have done more. I don’t think anyone could have stopped what happened. The police did the best they could.”
The government has asked the Commons Home Affairs Committee to conduct a national enquiry into the riots and it is due to begin on 6 September. Asked if she thought the borough-wide enquiry was necessary? Tuffey said: “To be honest, probably not. I would say it does not warrant it because no one could have prevented it.”
Graham Reeves is one of two brothers, who run the House of Reeves furniture store which was burnt to the ground during the riots three weeks ago. The 144-year-old store is a family business which has been run by the Reeves for five generations. A smaller Reeves store reopened last week. Mr Reeves said: “Obviously it is nice to get to the bottom of things but enquiry after enquiry, who is funding it? If the government and the council are all doing enquiries, you don’t want tax payers money going to all that.”
While Mr Wicks praised individual police officers, fire fighters and citizens, saying “there was much bravery and heroism,” he added: “I hope fervently that these things never happen again, but if they do, we must be prepared.”