London riots: ‘I’m sorry, we had very few officers’ - Redbridge police chief
The borough’s police chief has said “sorry” for not being able to protect shopkeepers in Ilford Lane and elsewhere in the borough from vandals on Monday.
Borough commander Det Ch Supt Sue Williams admitted she had “few resources” at her disposal on Monday afternoon, with many of her officers deployed to key areas in London as the violence spread.
Speaking at a meeting of the Redbridge Safer Communities Partnership held yesterday in Redbridge Town Hall, High Road, Ilford, she said: “We had very few officers.
“At 4pm [on Monday] we had a hint through the social networks of something going on in the borough.
“With our CCTV we were able to monitor everyone coming in to the town centre.
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“We looked at their faces, what they were doing and getting a handle on who they were.
“At about 5.30pm, all the groups started coming together and 200 ran down the high street towards the police station.
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“I only had six officers, a thin blue line, at that end of the road.
“I got everyone in the station, including CID, out to support them.
“We secured the high street and took it back.
“But it didn’t stop them looting some shops.
“Unfortunately, being dispersed, the crowds went into some of the other communities and they made their way down Ilford Lane.
“Some shops were looted down there.
“I’m sorry that happened.
“I’m sorry there was damage to vehicles further up towards Chadwell Heath.
“But we had very few resources.
“It took 20 minutes for the territorial support group resources to come to our aid in this borough and we had to hold it.”
About a dozen buildings were damaged across the borough on Monday and Tuesday, and four cars were torched.
Referencing the scale of vandalism seen elsewhere in London Mrs Williams said: “You could say we go away with it, and yes we did.
“Why? Because we had really good policing on that night.”
On Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, more police were made available with the cancellation of leave and deployed across the borough to protect areas.
That is expected to continue into the weekend.