Maybe what we need is more activist photographers?

It’s disconcerting being photographed. I presume that was part of the reasoning of East German Border Guards taking copious amounts of them of the hoards of tourists that used to visit Checkpoint Charlie in the old days (or February 1986 to you and me)…

It puzzled me for years afterwards what they might do with a set of photographs of people I presume they could know nor log or even process effectively in those days when Intel processers were much slower and still largely industry only.

The only real effect had to been breath out a cold sense of fear to those visting for the first time.

I’m not sure that’s precisely what the loyalist activist behind this video was up to when he shot these images yesterday (before an apparently orchestrated loyalist riot around the corner), but his/her video had a chilling effect on some of its nationalist subjects:

Several thoughts:

One, the presence of video cameras can have an impact at least on incipient riot situations. Apart from one adult march most of the stone throwing involves minors who quickly hide their faces once the adults around them realised they are being filmed.

Two, everything that happens on the streets of Belfast now is subject of a propaganda war. There seems not to have been nationalists at the site of the Loyalist rioting, so the only YouTube residue is of Nationalists behaving badly. You might say, they are learning.

Three, such ‘citizen reporting’ is necessarily one sided but in the absence of more comprehensive analysis it makes for good copy. It is part of a wider power play for the upper hand in the public mind. Traditionally, loyalists have been useless at it.

Once policy makers thought what community activists needed was mobile phones to each other in touch with what’s happening on the other side.

But I am not sure what can be done to put the lid back on a situation that is in danger of unravelling beyond anyone’s control but those activists who are driving these bare-bellies-in-the-car-park type of confrontations.

Perhaps what we need is just more citizens with cameras?

Mick is founding editor of Slugger. He has written papers on the impacts of the Internet on politics and the wider media and is a regular guest and speaking events across Ireland, the UK and Europe. Twitter: @MickFealty

  • Mister_Joe

    There was a significant riot in Vancouver well over a year ago. The police asked the public to send in copies of their photos. They got hundreds of thousands of them. They are still identifying people and are continuing to lay charges.
    Everyone with a cell phone has a camera. I would have thought that that fact could make people restrain their behaviour, but it seems not to be the case for some.

  • John Ó Néill

    Mick – as far as I can tell – that is the footage being shot at the same time as the photo I posted. Presumably the viewers on the Orange Hall balcony are those that the various gestures are aimed at – so the footage was shot by someone at ground floor level (rather than on the balcony itself) and includes shots down Henry Place (the limestone wall is the cemetery) and around Clifton Street. Apparently the loyalist protest appeared when the crowd were to leave the cemetery which seems to be what is happening here.

  • Mick Fealty

    The Ardoyne also seems to feature in at least some of it… though that might be a distraction…

    Whoever did the video has a pretty cool piece of equipment at their disposal… budget no object…

  • John Ó Néill

    The zoom is pretty nifty alright. The quality of the image and the elevation of the shots to get the cemetery gate on Henry Place and right down to the Carlisle Road end means it could well have been one of the budding photographers on the Orange Hall balcony (you could probably guess which camera it was taken from pretty quickly).

    I didn’t watch it all so I didn’t see if there was any Ardoyne footage stitched in – but initially it looks pretty much like it just includes Clifton St (looking back over the Westlink towards Clifton House, the car park at the Henry Place/Clifton St corner and all along Henry Place as far back as Carlisle Road). The framing of some of the shots makes it hard to pick out other landmarks). The Newlodge Facebook photo galleries are pretty good as well. Under the circumstances, it always helps to include a date/time stamp so that some rough time line can be picked out.

  • Mick Fealty

    It comes back to that later… we’d need a view from someone more intimately aware of the geography of north to be certain… Your pic was exactly the kind of thing we need to fill in the wider picture…

    But the balcony clips give a really good impression of what a low level event looks like and how the presence of a camera can modify behaviours…

    Just a shame no one had the cameras on the rioters… then we might have had a more pointed conversation with Mr Wilkinson on Morning Ireland…

  • Lionel Hutz


    You have two articles in a row which are both accurate, but doesn’t it just demonstrate how confused the loyalist people of the area seem to be. On the one hand, you have an organized riot. On the other, you have an organized filming session. Does that not mean that there will be alot of video evidence of the organized riot??????

    And the BBC are clearly reporting that Loyalists started a riot.

    They couldn’t shoot themselves in the foot any better if they tried?

  • John Ó Néill

    I had a scroll through it – I can’t say anything that isn’t Clifton St/Henry Place/Carlisle St. I stood at the bus stop going home from St Malachy’s god knows how many times (when I couldn’t be bothered walking) and my granny lived just below Carlisle St. Oddly I used to cut through Henry Place way cycling to work in Queens as well.

  • tacapall

    The video shows just the Clifton Street, Henry Place area, its obviously taken from the balcony of Clifton Street Orange hall although looking quite high is roughly around 3 1/2 to 4 metres from the ground.

    “Three, such ‘citizen reporting’ is necessarily one sided but in the absence of more comprehensive analysis it makes for good copy. It is part of a wider power play for the upper hand in the public mind. Traditionally, loyalists have been useless at it.”

    This is not the first time loyalists have done this Mick this is the first time they have publicised it for everyone to see.

    Those who manufacture these situations use the footage for intelligence purposes, propaganda and as a recruiting tool showing the enemy and brainwashing children from a young age.

  • We have seen repeatedly — for example, here in London over the deaths of Ian Tomlinson and Mark Duggan — that “citizen journalists” with their camera-phones can tell a very different tale to the “official” one.

    That, surely, is good. It goes some way to levelling the legal playing field.

    On the other hand Mr Fealty started from the Grenzaufklärungszug and their penchant for cameras. The upside of that was VEB Kamera-Werke Dresden-Niedersedlitz, which churned out quite decent Prakticas, at the cutting-edge of innovation throughout the 1950s and beyond. We could always guess where the motivation came from. And why Orwochrome (nowhere near the quality of Kodachrome, of course) came so cheap — it had a curious greenish cast, too.

    This activity was not — and is not — limited to wholly-unsavoury regimes. Half a century gone, my father, a minor civil servant, was able to note my weekend movements by the number of times he had a security clearance — I assumed then that I had an MI5 file, simply for being near a CND march. To this day, no parade or demonstration seems to lack guys on roof tops with long-tom lenses. Even at the street level we have these parking spy cameras (the ones I see are mounted on Smart cars).

    Across this land of the “free”, we have a CCTV surveillance camera for every thirty citizens. Most of those are controlled by private operators. One credible claim that chills me is:

    both the Shetland Islands Council and Corby Borough Council – among the smallest local authorities in the UK – have more CCTV cameras than the San Francisco Police Department… The borough of Wandsworth has the highest number of CCTV cameras in London, with just under four cameras per 1,000 people. Its total number of cameras – 1,113 – is more than the police departments of Boston [USA], Johannesburg and Dublin City Council combined.

  • John Ó Néill

    Sorry – that last post makes little sense if you don’t know the bus stop just up from Orange Hall (ie the same vantage point as the camera, kinda…).

  • sherdy

    Plenty of young children are featured in this video. Are there not laws against the unauthorised photographing of children?

  • sherdy @ 6:57 pm:

    No. See here.

  • That video was shot from a 1.2m high wall outside the Indian Community Centre. If you want to know how I know, that’s me at 2:45-2:52 (the photographer with the rucksack) I should have a few photos of the person videoing, but it’s not really my place to reveal them here.

  • lamhdearg2

    probably right on that stephen, on both counts.

  • If only cameras all shared a common time code via GPS and then the different footage from both sides and none could be stitched together. Maybe next time a riot is planned, Slugger should flood the area with cameras! Sounds like a new requirement for Parade Commission’s website: schedule a parade, a protest or a riot.

  • DC

    I was wondering why you weren’t there Alan, a couple of voxpops here and there might have been interesting.

  • Mister_Joe


    If only. Then the next time I go out to burgle a shop I could take my grandson with me. He does need to learn the tricks of the trade and they wouldn’t be allowed to use illegal evidence from the security cameras if I got caught.

  • Now here’s an odd one.

    It would be interesting to know the “chain of evidence” from the site of the assault/alleged murder to the arrest in the stands of Anfield, particularly so when:

    Police have said they do not believe the incident is football or gang-related or that Mr Smith knew his attackers.

    Facial recognition, obviously — but from surveillance cameras?

    I recall that, in the bad old days, we were told (or warned) that NI was the laboratory for counter-terrorism and all that went with it. Here, in the messy business around the Orange Lodge, there is enough prima facie (sorry about the bad pun) to nail a number of malefactors.

    In the report, Towards Sustainable Security, the Community Relations Council identified (see page 21) several fixed PSNI interface CCTV cameras in the area of these ructions. I’d assume they are still in place, and are likely to have been enhanced in the last decade.

    Somewhere in there a + b = c. And it goes a long way further than one faction using Youtube or whatever at the expense of the other.

  • Mister_Joe


    Did you notice my first comment? Well over a year later, police are still patiently trawling through photos and just yesterday issued warrants for 3 people. Unfortunately, they are all in the US and currently not immediately available to assist the police with their inquiries.

  • andnowwhat

    Someone mentioned on another thread that the local media seems to go asleep at weekends, a time when most of the action takes place. Both on blogs and MSM I am constantly hearing reports based on investigations by The Detail and such. So, what’s going on and is it any wonder that there zis such a vaccum left for such bias comments and endless whataboutery and hearsay filling the media.

    When an event is upcoming in this day of the Internet and social media, I would expect researchers to be using such tools to spot where the stories are coming. The spides find it easy enough

  • Mister_Joe

    See if you can recognize anyone in this photograph using the zoom feature.

  • redhugh78

    Checkpoint Charlie?

    You had to go far to feel a ‘cold sense of fear’.

    Any Irish Republican got the same treatment from our own ‘North Eastern Border Guards’ at check-points all over the 6 counties for decades, not to mention funerals, rallies etc.

  • Mister_Joe @ 7:57 pm:

    Yes, and you’re making one of your usual effective points.

    With respect, though, that is there and this is here. The differences are that one fifth of the world’s supply of CCTV is at work across the UK. The application of technology is unregulated, and now embedded and accepted in our native culture. I know from my US contacts that their public opinion is more squeamish — and presume Canada is similarly inclined.

    While facial recognition is used, by all accounts it’s still (allegedly) in its infancy and unreliable — I gather it didn’t work too well in last year’s London riots. That’s despite the Met Police throwing £4.1 million at the project last year. One reason is that much of the CCTV material was low-grade stuff.

    I guess the powers-that-be, both sides of the Atlantic, are working on it, intensively. I’d also suppose that “official” CCTV is of far higher-quality than than used in the local convenience store.

    If the “official” gear genuinely doesn’t deliver the goods, I’d then be wondering why we throw so much moolah at it. Over five years local councils in the UK spent £515 million million on CCTV. Police £500+ million. There are 1,851 public-watching cameras at the Stratford Olympic Park. And then we’d have to add in the spooks with their unaccountable bottomless wallets.

    Next up, police spy drones.

    Oh, and I see that Facebook is now applying PhotoTag as a way of generating a database for facial recognition. Nice.

  • redhugh78

    .. and judging by where those photos ended up they had every right to feel a sense of fear.

  • Zig70

    Anyone know why there was a media blackout for the riots? Who asked for it? Was it the police or politicians? All I could get from websites was a few seconds on and a few lines in any other mainstream news website.

  • DC

    someone needs to get a webcam and internet and wire up a live feed somehow. you in the area zig?

  • Zig70

    God no, I’m in my ivory tower.

  • andnowwhat

    Sorry. Wrong thread

  • Comrade Stalin


    And the BBC are clearly reporting that Loyalists started a riot.

    They couldn’t shoot themselves in the foot any better if they tried?

    Not really, the loyalist line here is classic siege mentality – everyone is out to get us and paint us as the bad guys, and that includes the BBC.

  • andnowwhat


    Totally agree about the Beeb. I listened to the district commander talk about how much the blame lay with loyalist’s and then came on the news and played the balance game.

    Btw, there is a helicopter up in Newtownabbey this last fifteen minutes. Hope nothing is happening

  • Lionel Hutz

    Comrade, Your probably right. I wonder though if this is a game of diminishing returns both for the Unionist parties and the loyalist mobs.

    The Alliance Party could benefit if they called it like it is here. Although David Ford shouldn’t do it given his position.

    And the Loyalists cannot be rewarded with a new grant. They deserve to be ostracised in the same way that the dissidents are

  • Alias

    “But I am not sure what can be done to put the lid back on a situation that is in danger of unravelling beyond anyone’s control but those activists who are driving these bare-bellies-in-the-car-park type of confrontations.”

    Probably not much of any use this year. Once one tribe starts to use the determinations of the Parades Commission as a sectarian tool to harange the other tribe (“youse won’t be allowed march next year”; “youse will have to hire a fast bus”; “youse will have to shut yer traps outside our churches”; “youse will all be banned from marching eventually,” etc) then there is going to be an ugly response to ugly haranging. Being slow learners, they’ll learn in a few years that it is counterproductive to use these determinations as sectarian weapons.

  • Tomas Gorman

    Henry Joy would have been proud.

  • aquifer

    With so much digital footage about, playing the blame game becomes much less rewarding.

    The question becomes:

    After seeing these pictures why should we ever again listen to a single word you say?

    Sinn Fein’s timing in getting out of the street provocation business was immaculate, just as chemical art pics were overwhelmed by a tsunami of digital imagery.

  • aquifer

    “The Alliance Party could benefit if they called it like it is here.”

    Naomi could also lose big in her far East Belfast citadel.

    Expect Alliance’s response to be confined to election literature in the leafy suburbs, where they will become what the garden centre prods wanted of the Ulster Orange Lily Livered Unionist party.

  • Tomas Gorman @ 3:19 am:

    Equally, the strident views of his remarkable (and largely overlooked) sister might be interesting.

    From the DNB (and by ATQ Stewart):

    McCracken, Mary Ann (1770–1866), social reformer, was born on 8 July 1770 at 39 High Street, Belfast, the sixth of the seven children of Captain John McCracken (1721–1803), a master mariner with entrepreneurial interests, and his wife, Ann Joy (1730–1814). Mary Ann was the sister of the United Irishman Henry Joy McCracken. The Joys were a family of Huguenot descent who contributed much to the development of Belfast as a modern industrial city, including the founding of its first newspaper, the Belfast News-Letter, in 1737, and the nurture of its early textile industry. Mary Ann was especially close to her elder brother Henry, and came to share much of his political idealism. They received part of their education in the school founded by David Manson, whose methods of teaching children ‘by way of amusement’ and reward rather than punishment (D. Manson, Belfast News-Letter, 17 Oct 1755) were then regarded as outlandish, and they grew up as lively and public-spirited young people who alarmed their elders by reading and admiring the works of William Godwin, Mary Wollstonecraft, and later Tom Paine.

    At that time the Ulster Presbyterians, who were excluded from the charmed circle of the protestant ascendancy, shared many grievances with Irish Catholics, and were regarded with suspicion by the government, largely because of their sympathy with the revolutionaries in America and France. When Henry became a member of the Society of United Irishmen, Mary Ann gave him her full support and did not waver from it when it became clear that he was deeply involved in plotting revolution. He was arrested in October 1796 and imprisoned in Dublin but released in December 1797. When rebellion burst out in Ireland on 23 May 1798 the north remained quiet, to the amazement of the authorities. The truth was that the chosen leader in co. Antrim had refused to act without a French invasion, but two weeks later Henry Joy McCracken took his place and raised the standard of revolt. The rebels were routed at Antrim town on 7 June 1798 and McCracken became a fugitive. Although Belfast was under stringent military curfew Mary Ann set out to seek news of her brother, ascending Cave Hill and combing the bleak moorland until she found him, with the few followers who remained loyal to him. On her return to Belfast she at once began to arrange his escape to America. The plan went forward, but McCracken had the bad luck to be recognized by an acquaintance when he reached the coast. He was arrested, tried by court martial, and executed in Belfast on 17 July 1798. With immense courage Mary Ann sat by her brother during his trial and walked hand in hand with him to the gallows. She later confessed, ‘I did not weep till then’ (Madden, 2.494).

    Mary Ann McCracken devoted the rest of her long life to caring for the poor and disadvantaged and campaigning for the rights of women and children. Much of her time was dedicated to work for the Belfast Charitable Institution, which her uncles Robert and Henry Joy had helped to create in 1771. Apart from the needs of the poor of Belfast, other causes claimed her enthusiasm: campaigns to improve conditions in prisons, to foster education, and to abolish the use of climbing boys in chimney sweeping, and cruelty to animals. For years she abstained from eating sugar, though she had a sweet tooth, to support anti-slavery. Like most of her co-religionists, she eventually made her peace with the British government, declaring on Queen Victoria’s accession that all their grievances had been righted (McCleery, 192). She died on 26 July 1866 in Belfast, at the age of ninety-six, having lived long enough to be the subject of a clear and striking photograph, now in the Ulster Museum in Belfast. Her grave in the new burying-ground at Clifton Street remained unmarked until 1909, when the exhumed remains of her brother were placed in it and a stone erected which recorded that she ‘wept by her brother’s scaffold’.

  • HeinzGuderian

    A failed rebel,with a sister with a sweet tooth.

    In the name of holey lace,does it get any sadder than this ? 🙁

  • Jack2

    Very interesting video footage, gave me a new business idea.
    Primark outlet store in North Belfast.

    Run it on the Ryanair principles of low outgoings.
    Selling only XL->XXXXL clothes. (Low stock costs – fast turn around).
    Open only on giro day (low staffing/heating costs).

    /ashamed to say I’m from the same community as some of these feral people – so yes I can make observations without bias. (See Chris Rock vs the N word for example.)

  • Mick Fealty


    I went to Berlin to work over a long weekend… The sight seeing at Charlie was incidental. Much preferred walking over the frozen Wandsee, and listening to the ice breakers cutting long into the night between Potsdam and West Berlin…

    The most scary thing was the way the Border Guards used to take your passport off you put it on a conveyor belt making you drive for half a mile before handing it back to you well inside DDR territory…

  • Mick Fealty

    I’ve been looking through the YouTube account…

    When you look at the behaviour of the Orange marchers past St Patricks (and opprobrium it drew from the Minister of Culture, Sport etc) and the behaviour of these guys passing Clifton Orange Hall, you have to ask what is going on here?

  • The Lodger

    “When you look at the behaviour of the Orange marchers past St Patricks (and opprobrium it drew from the Minister of Culture, Sport etc) and the behaviour of these guys passing Clifton Orange Hall, you have to ask what is going on here?”


    I had wondered about that myself. The mob following the republican band can clearly be seen hurling golf balls, missiles and general sectarian abuse towards the people in the Orange Hall yet as you point out nothing is said.

    There seems to be a sort of schitzophrenia from CNR posters when it comes to this sort of thing. When unionist marchers misbehave the whole world seems to cave in. When republican marchers misbehave nothing is said.

    In the original St Patrick’s case we were talking about an incident outside an empty Chapel. In this case we are talking about physical attacks on people in an Orange hall. Yet we have threads about the identities of the people in the hall. This is especially amusing given that the people complaining about those in the hall are republicans who spent years demanding that republican murderers should be given equal treatment to other people.

    Indeed the original problems with the Parades Commission began when they insisted that the OO and others had to go cap in hand to republican terrorists for permission to march in areas, where they had marched for decades, because those same terrorists would ensure rioting occurred if they did not. The hypocrisy can be mind boggling at times.

  • The Lodger

    Mr Joe,

    Ad hominem.

  • Mister_Joe


    You think? Nothing ironic about you seeing the only people doing wrong yesterday being the hooligans throwing objects apparently at the good folks on the balcony of the Orange hall? Nothing to say about the pre-organized riot by others?

  • Comrade Stalin

    The Alliance Party could benefit if they called it like it is here. Although David Ford shouldn’t do it given his position.

    Alliance have been extremely disappointing. I just checked the party’s list of press releases and there hasn’t been a word from an Alliance MLA, MP or Minister on anything that has been happening since the weekend.

    I think people are crying out for a strong and direct condemnation of the lawbreakers and for a politician to point out that other politicians are acting to undermine the rule of law and justify attacks on police. I absolutely think those words should come from the Justice Minister. The “both sides must come together to solve this” while true is far from sufficient. I would like to hear unionist politicians explain in particular how they can square their supposed law and order focus with the kinds of things they have been saying in public over the past two weeks, and the Justice Minister is the only person who can compel them to do this.

    I find it very sad that apparently no-one saw the opportunity to demand the complete disbandment of the residual paramilitary organizations on all sides and for the community to co-operate with the police in ridding the place of them all. It might be a pipe dream but someone has to say it.


    I had wondered about that myself. The mob following the republican band can clearly be seen hurling golf balls, missiles and general sectarian abuse towards the people in the Orange Hall yet as you point out nothing is said.

    There is a clear problem with buildings on both sides not being shown the respect they deserve. There is a need for cross community co-operation and dialogue to put a stop to this – as well as police action where necessary.

  • Pollster

    I was walking into town just prior to the parade taking off (20 minutes before?) and had no knowledge of it beforehand. Walked into a large crowd from the roundabout down to just before the orange hall. Bricks were being broken up and thrown at and over the police land rovers at this point from the loyalist crowd I was now a part of. Theres another video shot from the balcony which was heavily edited, some of it shot at the point I had stumbled into this crowd. Had the person holding that camera turned left we would have seen a more accurate picture of events. That would obviously not serve the purpose of his videos though. There was “rioting” from the loyalist side long before the parade even left the new lodge. The propaganda war being fought on both sides is interesting though. Sad that (judging by the youtube comments) both communities eat up the nonsense being fed to them in these heavily edited videos.

  • Mick Fealty


    Well both sides do have the means to do something about it (they ‘own’ OFMdFM) but their fortunes are so tied to the lowest common denominator in North that there seems no scope for leadership.

    What in your own analysis here provides people with a way out?

    Unionists, it has already been well said here, have the bigger problem in that the Orange are not popular within wider society.

    So they are vulnerable to the charge of ‘wearing a loud shirt in a built up area’, whilst Republicans can throw golf balls (traditional anti Orange fare in North) with impunity…

    The hypocrisy of unionist polticians concerns their failure to endorse a ruling of the PC they consider to have been unjust. (Not entirely dissimilar to those notorious law breakers, the founding cadre of the SDLP).

    Republican hypocrisy consists largely of turning a blind eye to the poor behaviour of their own side… And encouraging the wider world to do likewise… (This kind of lunacy will not play well in the Republic where SF is hacking away at a cultural resistance to them as political arsonists).

    All great fun for those who believe it can turn out worse only for unionists.

    In the middle of all of, this ‘indigenous administration’ is failing through a similar inability to act politically which, in part, accounted for the ultimate failure of the first Northern Irish government.

    It is a tangible political choice not to do anything about this problem for four years. Any serious analysis will place the blame on BOTH parties here, not just one.

    So where is the momentum, or even just the ideas, to sort this once and for all?

  • Jack2

    ” their fortunes are so tied to the lowest common denominator in North that there seems no scope for leadership” – this nails the problem perfectly.
    I’ll be a little less PC about it.

    Both political sides need votes from the knuckle draggers causing the problems and engaged in rioting that they are effectively neutered.

  • John Ó Néill

    Mick – did you just join dots between NICRA/PD and the right to play The Famine Song and The Sash outside a Catholic Church?

    I was glad to see RNU marshals giving kids (who presumably threw golf balls etc) the kick on the arse that they deserved. The Order marshals encouraged the bands to play louder. There is still the small matter of the riot debris field that was clearly there before the parade arrived on Clifton St – from the loyalist attempt to block the parade route.

    This is still just scrolling through to find a fall back unionist position here.

  • andnowwhat

    For how many years has Gerry Kelly condemned the actions of GARC and promoted dialogue as well as unequivocally condemning the rioting?

    Winkie was on Nolan this morning and was all over the place. Like those who defended the UVF attack on the Short Strand, he seems to think that all Catholics like in twenty bedroom mansions with heated swimming pools out the back and four Porches on the forecourts.

  • Comrade Stalin

    What in your own analysis here provides people with a way out?

    There need to be changes.

    I’d like to see legislation that makes it illegal to be present at the scene of a riot, and for the police to use that to simply lift anyone who they can catch who is present at the scene.

    Now that, for the first time, we have cross community support for the authorities and the law and order, I’d like our politicians to stop being equivocal, condemn all violence, and call upon communities to shop anyone caught rioting. Politicians across the board aren’t nearly as outward about this as they need to be.

    If we can’t get the above, we are effectively conceding that we live in a place where politicians won’t get behind the law and that we essentially live in a place which is ungovernable. Which to me really means it’s time to abandon ship – how can you live in a society where the government’s own ministers put out statements defending civil disobedience in the context of mass riots ?

  • CS,

    I’d like to see legislation that makes it illegal to be present at the scene of a riot, and for the police to use that to simply lift anyone who they can catch who is present at the scene.

    I understand your temptation, but that would be very dangerous legislation indeed. The police would have to arrest themselves, for a start. But even then, what about journalists? What if the riot happens outside your house and you need to get in to make sure your children are safe? How close does one have to be to be “present” anyway?

    You’re essentially proposing internment.

  • Surely it is already illegal to be present at the scene of a riot.

    Section 1(1) of the Public Order Act 1986?