More democracy needed, not water cannon and riot troops

I THINK that Keith Walters should offer his advice (Letters, August 17) to the Syrian Government, as I certainly would not want to see his state security apparatus applied on British Streets. Please allow me to outline the opposing arguments.

While many will easily see the appeal of using water cannon with indelible dyes to manage rioters and make them easily distinguishable afterwards, this oversimplifies the composition of the crowd.

As we have seen from television footage, within the throngs of people are innocent bystanders, who may be victims of the rioters or alternatively people defending their property.

Blasting all these people with indelible dyes will make the rioters and innocent indistinguishable to the public afterwards, and so make the latter victims through public vengeance in the aftermath. The police themselves have said that water cannon would not work in the situations they were faced with.

Putting armed soldiers onto the street means that we must accept that riots may turn into a bloodbath with high numbers of deaths. Again, in a fast-paced situation, innocent bystanders would likely be killed.

Do we want to adopt a 1970s Northern Ireland style of dealing with civil unrest? This would surely lead to further divisions and deepen problems.

The assertion that only the criminally-minded benefit from the EU Convention on Human Rights is blatantly untrue. Diane Pretty used the convention in her campaign for assisted suicide following her diagnosis of motor neurone disease.

Most Read

More successfully, Michael Marper, who was arrested in 2001, challenged the UK police’s right to keep his DNA record and fingerprints. He was not convicted of any crime, and had no previous record, but South Yorkshire police refused to remove his DNA profile and fingerprints from their database. Using the EU Convention on Human Rights, he was able to succeed in his goal in 2008.

As for the few things communities could do for themselves, such as shopkeepers refusing to serve masked men, I used to live in Sawtry and at no point did I ever encounter masked youths in the Co-op or post office. Nor have I ever seen them in any other shop.

As for hoodies: I do not like tweed, but I would not [refuse to] serve someone in a public building because of that.

I’m a teacher and have worn a hoodie because it kept my ears warm. Surely the suggestion is not that we base our health care and social services on what people wear.

The totalitarian regime that Mr Walters speaks of is certainly not a response that I and many others would like to see. I draw inspiration from the words of the Norwegian Prime Minister, Jans Stoltenberg: “We need more openness and more democracy” – not water cannon and troops on our streets.


Crosshall Road

Eaton Ford