Everybody seems to be wondering why the UK response to rioting has been so slow.  There are also plenty of people asking why Boris doesn’t do something.

The answer is pretty simple; the civil disturbance is now so serious that the only reasonable response to it is an invocation of the Civil Contingencies Act 2004 – an act which can only be invoked by an Order in Council or by a senior Minister of the Crown.  The Mayor of London has absolutely no role in this legislation, cannot invoke it, and cannot intervene in the operational business of the Metropolitan Police.

Provisions pursuant the Act can only be invoked where the Minister is satisfied that other laws are incapable of handling the situation, that the situation is urgent and that there is a risk of continued serious damage.  As the Cabinet Office puts it:

  • an emergency that threatens serious damage to human welfare, the environment or security has occurred, is occurring or is about to occur;
  • it is necessary to make provision urgently in order to resolve the emergency as existing powers are insufficient and it is not possible to bring forward a Bill in the usual way because of the need to act urgently; and
  • emergency regulations must be proportionate to the aspect or effect of the emergency they are directed at.

Finally, the regulations must be approved by Parliament within seven days of their laying.  So no more holidays for anyone.