Last night was terrifying. We didn't have riots in the immediate vicinity, perhaps because a lot of local shopkeepers took precautions including having men standing outside with baseball bats, but when the news keeps reporting new areas of violence you just keep wondering when it's your turn.
What do we need now? We can have all the waffle about causes and protests from the usual apologists, many of whom don't live the areas at risk, but that doesn't make people safer in the meantime. Is "understanding" going to make the streets safe tonight? We need a much firmer approach, and the announced large increase in police on the streets is a welcome first step. It's also encouraging that support for a firm approach is coming from surprising sources.
But we also need to unfetter the police's hands to deal with riots. We need to allow them to use the tactics and equipment - including water canons - necessary. But we also need to rebalance the rights of both the police and law-abiding citizens with the "rights" of criminals so that the former don't feel unable to deal with the latter due to fear of legal repercussions whilst the latter feel they can act unrestrained.
We must end the fear.