UK police: Cops protected Olympic sites

2011-08-16 22:21

London - British police revealed on Tuesday that they sent officers to protect major shopping centres and the 2012 Olympics sites after intercepting phone and social network messages saying they were targets for rioters.

Assistant Commissioner Lynne Owens of London's Metropolitan Police told a committee of lawmakers that police sent extra officers to London's Oxford Circus, two malls and the Olympic Park on August 8 after seeing messages on Twitter and the BlackBerry devices of people who had been arrested for rioting.

Owens said that "through Twitter and BBM there was intelligence that the Olympic site, Westfields [shopping malls] and Oxford Street were going to be targeted."

"We were able to secure all those places and indeed there was no damage at any of them," she said, according to London's Evening Standard newspaper.

Police and politicians claim young criminals used Twitter and Blackberry's simple and largely cost-free messaging service to co-ordinate looting sprees during the riots.

The government has said it will debate whether cell phone services could be disrupted or blackouts imposed on social networks during riots - proposals that have already been fiercely opposed by civil libertarians.

The acting chief of London's police force, Tim Godwin, told Parliament's home affairs committee that police had considered seeking approval to switch off such services, but decided against it. He said the legality of such action was "very questionable," and social networks were a useful intelligence asset.

Police have arrested more than 3 000 people over riots that erupted August 6 in north London and flared for four nights across the capital and other English cities.

A 16-year-old boy was ordered on Tuesday to stand trial for the murder of a retiree attacked when he confronted rioters in London, as judges and prosecutors used tough punishment and name-and-shame tactics against hundreds of alleged participants in the mayhem.

The government said police would get better training and stronger powers to deal with a new and unpredictable era of street disturbances.

"We will make sure police have the powers they need," said Home Secretary Theresa May — including, she suggested, the power to impose blanket curfews in troubled areas.

  • Real Deal - 2011-08-17 00:50

    Lies - anything to justify a total disgrace. Anyway - If they were there - it was because they were hiding and too scared to confront the mob

  • Kevin Rack - 2011-08-17 05:18

    points. Talk about leaving the working man, who pays all the taxes to fend for himself. All those that criticised the rioters its time you thought about changing your vote. PM Cameron: Hiring ex News Ltd employees who lied about phone hacking: Fail. PM Cameron:For not resigning when you forced the Met cheif and deputy to resign for empoying the same News Ltd employees: Fail PM Cameron: For failing the tax payers by bailing out banks that created the debt crisis: Fail. PM Cameron: For the failed rescue mission of Linda Norgrove: Fail PM Cameron: The London riots. Your failure to protect the working man: Fail

      Matt :-) - 2011-08-17 09:17

      What's the alternative? Labour? Heck no! Everything Labour ever touches turns to dirt! Granted though, Cameron sucks. And I've always leaned towards the Tories...

  • thelittlegreenhouse - 2011-08-17 08:28

    ...and the people bowed and prayed, to the neon god they made...

  • Pixie1984 - 2011-08-17 08:39

    The looters were just there to take advantage and try and steal and break everything they could lay their grubby prepubescent little paws on. I don't feel sorry for any one of these little sods. If feel for the poor police that have to stand there and take the throwing of bricks etc because they were not allowed to use force. If they were my kids, they would have been bliksemed. No respect for anything or anyone. I would also send police to guard current and future tourist hangouts, so good call Mets, good call.

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