It’s beginning to look a lot like … lockdown

There are mixed reactions in some quarters to police action – with police officers declaring many of those arrested to be ‘kingpins’ of drug gangs

It’s beginning to look a lot like … lockdown

No sooner had it reached the climax than it began to fade. This at least was the hint of the endgame in Nuneaton on Tuesday night as the police waged an hours-long siege.

One report said that police had arrested 24 people, and another said police believed they were all “kingpins” of a drug gang. But according to a nightmarish experience I had watching the anti-riot TV station World News Plaza (West Yorkshire), it soon became clear to me that the police had been lying to the public.

Some people arrested by the police had claimed on the news that they had been beaten. On other accounts, the atmosphere in the town centre was quite frenzied and people were jostling for position. They were heard chattering about police running dogs and heavy bags full of weapons (which turned out to be of different descriptions).

On the other hand, if anyone was “pushed or pushed and shoved” by the police the accusations were of violence and aggression, not physical abuse.

Several thousand people were reckoned to have been in the town centre at the time of the action, but people here assume the police encountered those who had been there in a peaceful state.

Another report – somewhat calmer than its BBC equivalent – said that three policemen were seriously injured in a helicopter crash, apparently hitting their helmets as they were hurled by an object.

Other reports from North Yorkshire police’s Scottish detachment to the BBC described people carrying food and other vital goods from a cafe to the town centre. Indeed, the only true picture of the run-up to this episode is to be found in the words of the traders who were stuck behind police lines and who spoke with astonishment at all the attention.

They, at least, had laid low, as they were told by their security firm. They were told that it was beyond their capacity to help and had to sleep on the floors of the town’s hotels.

Perhaps the closest parallel to the drama at Nuneaton is the situation in Mill Hill in North London, which ended with a takeover of the Holiday Inn by protesters. Some four hundred police were brought in to reinforce a local firm, Totteridge Assurances Management, which brought in extra security personnel.

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