What is immediate is the failure of the police. Although individual officers have behaved bravely—in some cases heroically—in extremely difficult circumstances, their leaders have been slow, reactive, and timid. The Metropolitan Police, which covers London, has been having a wretched time recently, having lost its two most senior officers over the phone-hacking scandal last month. Even before that, it had been demoralized. The last Labour government had put it under a disastrous chief named Ian Blair, who seemed to believe that the promotion of diversity was, if not quite the sole function of his officers, then certainly the principal one. Now Londoners in the stricken boroughs complain that the police are slow to arrive, and that when they do turn up they are unwilling to go in hard.
There are plans to place English constabularies under directly elected representatives, as in the U.S.—a reform that would almost certainly lead to a more gloves-off approach. In the meantime, however, the police need to be reminded that they are there, above all, to be beastly to scoundrels. These disturbances are criminal, not political. We can’t properly call the rioters anarchists, since many of them depend on the state for their livelihood. No, these are simply unpleasant young men who display the flip side of Britain’s stoicism, namely our propensity for terrifying violence. It’s arguably a handy attribute in wartime, but it has no place on our streets. We need to tilt the balance of incentives for the thugs so that the risk of joining a riot outweighs the gain of peer status and perhaps some looted DVDs. There are no root causes to explore, no complaints to address, no issues to negotiate. What is required is a response commensurate with the violence.
(Emphasis mine.) It's remarkable that this even needs to be pointed out, isn't it?