In August 2011 some sections of the UK went mad. As sections of communities across the UK went on the rampage, the rest of us looked on in horror. Rioters were seen on the streets of the capital and the mayhem soon spread.
The spread of the trouble was partly due to networking sites such as twitter and facebook plus the use of Blackberries to circulate news and details of gatherings. A recent inquiry has also concluded that the police response was too slow and too soft.
Police did seem to be caught on the hop. At the time the government had announced cuts to police forces and some people believed this tarnished their response to the violence. It was almost as if they wanted to prove the point that a committed police force was vital for the country.
Most of us never doubted that.
The UK police force continue to be unarmed, except for exceptional circumstances. The majority of people in the UK still want that to be the norm. Guns often lead to more guns. The UK is a different kettle of fish to countries such as the US. In time the UK may have to change its stance.
For now the inquiry has concluded that if riots were to occur again in the UK the police force must be able to exercise stronger policing. It must "riot tactic rules". This year's riots involved arson and ultimately some loss of life. Many people sustained injuries, including police officers. Businesses and homes were lost.
The watchdog has decided that the UK police need firm guidelines about when they can and should make use of rubber bullets and water cannons.
The police inspectorate claims that this year's intense riots and arson attacks did warrant the use of firearms in response. It was felt that such measures were called for when lives were at risk, in the case of violent arson attacks and when members of the emergency services lives were put at risk.
UK MPs hold a different view. They appear to believe that the use of such means would be "indiscriminate and dangerous". The general public though seem to be in favour of get tough measures against rioters.
As usual cost is part of the problem. Water cannons are said to be effective for some scenarios but at a price. At a cost of around £1 million they do not come cheap. Added to this they need to operate in pairs to successfully disperse crowds.
Civil Liberty groups have warned against changes which could "sweep up the innocent with the guilty". It was generally accepted though that proper training for policing riots and sufficient officers on the streets was vital.
If we have learned our lessons we should now know that, at the first sign of such a riot it must be nipped in the bud. If sections of communities have grievances these must be addressed promptly and fairly.
Unrealistically heavy sentences should not be handed out following such unrest. The law is the law and to inflate sentences when it suits makes it a laughing stock. Appropriate sentences such as community service should also be handed out. Payback is needed.
Police officers must have the tools and the training to enable them to handle rioters safely and swiftly. They must have the necessary tools in order to combat such lawlessness. Above all they must show no fear. To hold back, for even a short space of time, gives rioters the edge and the confidence to carry on.
Opinion: It seems that the UK police are looking for direction from the government and us, the people. We do not live in a police state and so it is right that the police act on our behalf in a way we find acceptable. Whilst most people would want the police to be able to function effectively during such riots they would not want police using firearms. Today it has been said that if riots were to occur again live ammunition could be used. Whilst it is easy to see why, one has to look at the whole picture. We can hardly berate countries such as Libya that fire on their own people when they protest or riot and begin to walk down the same road, can we?.
Eileen Kersey manages TEK Staff Blog