LONDON Mayoral candidate Brian Paddick promised to shake-up the Met Police in a bid to repair their relationship with the public when he visited riot victims this morning.
It was met with approval by traders and residents who gathered in Crispins Wine bar, Ealing Green, which was looted and vandalised in the night of violence in August. They said they felt let down by the force and none had received compensation from the Metropolitan Police Authority (MPA).
Afterwards Mr Paddick toured the shell of Leni White's former home above the Ealing Green Local Supermarket, torched by rioters, and learned last week was the first time she had been contacted by the MPA since she submitted a claim about six months ago. After a struggle to get insurers to pay up she is still £15,000 out of pocket.
Mr Paddick, former deputy assistant commissioner until he resigned from the force in 2007, said he was appalled by the lack of progress and was shocked to hear from Ms White's former landlord that the MPA had only contracted loss adjusters within the past month. He said he would be calling on deputy prime minister Nick Clegg to intervene.
He blamed mismanagement by senior officers for allowing the riots to spiral out of control. And said: "Two debates came from the riots: why weren't there enough police? And why did it happen? What's missing is why increasing numbers of people don't trust the police. We saw large numbers of people go against the police, if people had respect for them they wouldn't have done that."
He said criminals do not stand a chance when the public and police stand together but the opposite is happening as resentment grows over stop and search tactics, response times and other problems.
With the law changing abolishing the Metropolitan Police Authority, giving the London mayor control of the force, Mr Paddick said there could not be a better man for the job.
But pointed out there are other reasons Ealing residents should vote for him. He promised to make improving Ealing Broadway station a priority, ensuring it became a proper interchange for tubes, trains and buses. And plans for one-hour bus tickets, measures allowing the lower paid to get cheaper fares, more electric-powered taxis and buses helping to improve air quality in the capital (which currently does not meet European safety standards) are among a raft of polices which will benefit Ealing residents.
He said: "We have just started campaigning and are yet to get our message across to Londoners. When we do people are going to start voting Liberal Democrat."