Police bid to prevent riots

AUSTRALIAN politicians, police and parents need to think about what lessons can be learnt from the recent rioting in London and other English cities.

It would be naive to think similar civil disobedience couldn’t happen here.

As the Herald Sun reveals today, Victoria Police is closely monitoring the activities of more than 70 youth and street gangs in Melbourne in the wake of the British riots.

The force is to be praised for proactively investigating strategies to prevent gangs being able to create such mayhem in Victoria.

One of the problems police in Britain faced was rioters using various forms of social media to signal where to meet and what to target, often enabling them to have come and gone before police arrived.

In light of that, Victoria Police is examining communications laws with a view to seeing what can be done to shut down the sort of riot-inciting tweets and texts used in England.

But it shouldn’t just be up to police to plan for the worst.

Society has a collective responsibility to act to not just have strategies to quash riots when they happen, but to also examine what long- and short-term measures can be introduced to stop them happening in the first place.

That means such things as better parenting, better education, better job prospects and more youth facilities.

It means providing police with the resources they need to monitor a new generation of gangs, tech-savvy gangs with the ability to move quickly in an unprecedented way.

It means State and Federal Governments funding studies into why these gangs are springing up, be they based on race or economic circumstances.

And it means not lying back and thinking what happened in England couldn’t happen here.

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