The inside story on the summer riots by the police officers on the frontline

Those who went toe to toe with gangs of thugs in a week of lawlessness last summer tell their stories

For almost a week last summer, law and order broke down in cities and towns across England as riots terrified communities and filled TV screens.

The independent Riots Communities and Victims Panel blames a lack of opportunities for young people, poor parenting, a sense of hopelessness, “forgotten families”, unemployment, a materialistic desire for designer brands and a lack of confidence in the police.

Whatever the reasons, officers – although initially outnumbered – regained control of our streets in the face of relentless violence.

Now those who went toe to toe with gangs of thugs tell their stories in Wasting More Police Time, edited by PC David Copperfield.

Any cop worth his salt loved it
I loved the riots. Once we got the numbers on the ground, it was great fun. It’s what I joined the police for.

Any policeman worth his salt will enjoy battering the f*** out of proper, evil s**** and, basically, that’s what we did.

I had free rein, within the law, to give a bit back. They are used to us treating them with kid gloves, I think when the gloves came off they were surprised.

It went from, “You pig scum”, to, “I want my mummy”. It allowed the country to see the kind of human filth we deal with.

PC, 34, Southern force

Mob ready to rape and kill
One of our unmanned nicks was set on fire and we provided a protective screen for the fire service who, like us, were being showered with petrol bombs, bottles of urine, wheel nuts, concrete.

The sheer hatred surprised me. I encounter aggression all the time, but the concentrated, furious, howling hatred of the mob was disconcerting.

There was ­credible intelligence they hoped to rape a woman officer and I was in no doubt that if they could get a male officer he would be killed.

PC, 33, Midlands force

War song gave us all a laugh
We’d had a very difficult day, like being on a Hollywood film set. Helicopters, smoke everywhere, people chanting and throwing stuff, it was very tense.

Then some lads from the North started singing We Gotta Get Out Of This Place, like US soldiers did in Vietnam. It cracked everyone up.

Some of the people we were confronting ­obviously thought: “What are this lot laughing about?

PC, 30 Southern force
Petty chief showed his grit
My inspector was widely regarded as a bit of a t**l for obsessing about stats, moaning if you’re not wearing your hat, stupid emails and that.

But on the second night of the rioting I saw him leading a charge against a large mob of rioters.

Him with his stick out, leading half a dozen bobbies into the fray and then laying about him like a viking. It was very inspiring.

My opinion of him changed somewhat, but he still insists on sending emails.

PC, 39, Southern force

It was close to anarchy in the UK
There’s no use denying it, we lost the streets for a while and we were very lucky with what happened.

There was a period when there was no law in parts of the UK and, given that there were knives and guns in use, that fires were being set and people were drunk on it all and completely out of control, it is pure luck that we didn’t have a serious number of fatalities.

If you’d said to me 100 people will end up dying in these riots, I might have settled for that.

Next time, I would think, perhaps we won’t be so lucky.

Inspector, 50, Midlands force

I’m so angry they scared my son
I worked 11 days straight through. Some people worked more. I only saw my wife and son for a couple of hours a day.

On the third day, my little boy said to me, “Don’t let the bad men kill you, Daddy”, which broke my heart.

We were trying to keep him away from the news, but inevitably he’d seen some of it and probably heard me talking to my wife.

When I think about the sheer malevolent glee of the rioters and their joy in mindless damage and violence, then how worried my little son was, it makes me so angry.

It’s the wantonness, the pointlessness, of it.

PC, 32, Southern force

We fought with choc and awe
It was shocking. You would be fighting almost for your life in one street, against a gang of youths.

And in the next street people would be coming up to you and asking what they could do to help.

They’d say, “We ain’t happy with what’s going on, we’re behind you guys 100%”.

People were bringing over shopping bags full of Ginsters pasties, bottles of pop, Mars bars…

I’m more of a Dime bar man, but it’s the thought that counts – and it was very well received by the lads and lasses.

PC, 30, Midlands force
Our van got smashed
Our van went down the streets where I grew up and got absolutely smashed.

I had visions of it conking out outside Mum’s house and eight coppers seeking sanctuary inside.

PC, 30, Midlands force

Overtime paid for hols
The overtime was ace. I’m off to Cancun in Mexico for Christmas, while the s**** are festering in their own s***, albeit they do now all have new Reeboks.

PC, 30, Southern force

Radio sent us all gaga
Some s*** stole an Airwave radio from an officer, started copying call signs and locations, then shouting, “Officer down”, over the radio.

It was obvious by the giggling that it wasn’t real, but it still clogged up our comms.

Despite all the ­technology, it took a long time to have it blocked.

PC, 36, Southern force

* The book Wasting More Police Time, edited by PC David Copperfield, is published by Monday Books, priced £8.99.

That should sort out the problem

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