Linda Colling: Time to get tough

A woman leaps from a burning building as riots take over London
A woman leaps from a burning building as riots take over London
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IT was like a war zone. On the street where he lives in Hackney, number one son Alistair summed up the riots with: “Scally kids smashing up their community to get free stuff.”

The worst scenes since the Blitz brought out a community spirit just as when the bombs dropped.

It was the ethnic community, the Turks and Bangladeshis who confronted the scum in defence of their livelihoods and homes, while the good people set to cleaning up their streets after the ravages of mobs. These aren’t poverty-stricken, penniless yobs. They’ve got Blackberries and iPhones.

This anarchy has spread like a bush fire because they knew they could get away with it. The mob sensed weakness and seized on it.

Water cannons would have cleared them off the streets. But Home Secretary Theresa May, said: “The way we police in Britain is not through use of water cannon but ... through consent of communities.”

This lawlessness and looting has escalated because it wasn’t nipped in the bud by the police fast enough. That’s not the fault of the brave policemen and women, but their politically-correct commanders.

Scotland Yard insiders have claimed the police were ordered to “stand and observe” rioters instead of confronting them. They had, apparently, been told to try and contain any violence, but not to haul away offenders who would instead be identified through video footage later, according to The Times.

That all changed when the riots spread. What must also now change are the police cuts.

These children, 15-year-old boys and girls, some even as young as eight running riot, are clearly identifiable and have caused untold destruction.

More frighteningly, it’s not just children, but supposedly responsible adults with respectable jobs.

The immigrant shopkeepers in Hackney armed themselves with baseball bats and even Samuri swords to show the wreckers they meant business and weren’t afraid to take a stand for all that we hold dear in this country – law and order and decency.

That’s what this country is crying out to see restored. It is not just down to the ordinary citizens to reclaim their streets, as they clear up and shop the feral gangs whose pictures the papers are carrying. It’s time for the Government to give the police tougher tools to do the job.

David Cameron calls the mobsters sick – every bit as sick as this Government’s first response.

The PM didn’t head home fast enough from Tuscany. Crisis in the country and he’s holidaying. It took three days for the Met to issue any images of suspects – and then only 12 grainy pictures.

One national has carried 30 identifiable faces.

The Sun’s front page screamed “Shop A Moron’ with more faces and the Crimestoppers number to call.

One thing’s for sure, it won’t be their parents calling. These kids are products of homes and a society that are morally bankrupt.

So much so they wouldn’t be on the streets causing mayhem if they had parents who cared where they were.

They’ve got all the gadgets, aren’t disenfranchised by poverty, but products of a country where antisocial behaviour is no longer seen as unacceptable.

They reckon they have licence to loot, smash, steal, raid, mug, burn and pillage all that once made Britain proud, all that this nation stood for – morality, hard work, fair play and knowing right from wrong.

They have no respect for their parents, police or other people since we’ve gone soft in homes, schools and courts.

Deprivation is no defence. It’s as weak an excuse as the lily-livered thugs who have wreaked gratuitous violence on our cities to disgrace us the world over.

The image of Monika Konczyk, 32, leaping from a burning building is etched in my mind. Her dramatic leap for life has left her traumatised.

She’s another victim, who once we could have been sure would see justice done, if the ones who carried out this outrage were caught.

Four lives have already been lost. Now we see a system that bends over backwards to understand the villains at the expense of the victims.

“Don’t mess with the Turks. That would be daft,” said my son who saw how they stood up not just for themselves, but the whole community of Hackney.

That’s the only language these thugs understand – zero tolerance – and one this Government will stand or fall by.

l Footnote: Hit them where it hurts in their pockets and sign up for the e-petition, calling for any convicted London rioters to lose all their financial benefits.

It is nearing 100,000 signatures, meaning it could be one of the first to be debated in Parliament.

So far nearly 90,000 have supported the motion on the Government’s e-petition website.