Cameron was no doubt briefed this morning on reasons why, out of 32,000 officers on the payroll, the Met police could only deploy 6,000 on Monday night. Even scaping up every traffic warden, PCSO and 1,500 men from outside forces the Met could only manage 16,000 on Tuesday. Not all of the remainder can have been on taxpayer funded factfinding missions to the Caribbean, lavishly spending on their Public credit cards. So there are answers here yet to find. But we can surmise that the PM was told that the police are at breaking point, that current numbers could only be sustained for a further 72 hours, that the attrition of minor injuries was taking 10% more police off-duty with every confrontation, and that law and order is on a knife-edge. He will have been offered three solutions;
1. Bring the armed forces in
2. Toughen the police response with baton rounds and water cannon - but at the risk of deaths amongst rioters
3. Empower local, civilian, policing - as BE says, magistrates can swear in as many special constables as they like.
No prize for guessing that Cameron has embraced the State solution - water cannon - as first preference. At 24 hours notice. No doubt flown in from NI in the belly of a Hercules.
The Turks who have organised themselves in North London, together with the white middle class in South London, are probably the most suited as the first of a wave of 'specials' to be sworn as both groups are predominantly formed of those without criminal convictions (yes, anyone with records would be excluded - I'd no more want a Millwall thug with GBH convictions in the line beside me than an Asian who'd been done for violent disorder in Bradford or Oldham. And this is why legal sanction and recognition for volunteer local policing is important.)
But instead of advancing the Localism agenda in a giant bound, instead of returning power to communities, and instead of setting the direction for the reform of policing in England, Cameron has shirked and shied at the fence. No surprise there, really. But another wasted opportunity.