So far tonight, London has been quiet, and hopefully it will remain so. Perhaps the massive deployment of 16,000 police officers has worked to deter the rioters and looters from continuing their thuggery, yet it will take some time before residents of London feel safe and secure. The Metropolitan Police will not be able to maintain such a level of manpower for long. It remains to be seen whether this will ease the tension and we will be back to something resembling normalcy in the capital.
As mentioned in a previous article, Fear in London, many shops had shut down early in anticipation of trouble, and some parts looked rather deserted. Will people will be confident enough about keeping the opening hours tomorrow? And the day after tomorrow?
Unfortunately riots and looting have spread to many other cities and urban areas in the UK. Reports suggest extensive damages have been caused in Manchester. If riots continue in many places in many cities, law and order will be hard to maintain.
Containment must be the top priority, however formulating effective policies to prevent a repeat of the events of the past few days must be the next step. It will partly be about policing, but it will also be about social policies as well. To put it somewhat in an exaggerated fashion: what kind of society should Britain be and Britons aspire to? There will be many competing visions and proffered solutions, but there will be no easy, single answer. Hopefully Britain and Britons are ready for such a debate.