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Much has changed in the past year. Over 3,000 people have been before the courts charged with offences related to the disorder that gripped the country in August 2011. The response from the public in terms of providing information on offenders and also in supporting their police service has been tremendous. The physical damage wrought by those criminals who decided to wreck their own communities has been repaired in most places.

The police service has been reviewing our response to those events, learning the lessons, and changing how we approach public disorder. We have developed more effective community intelligence systems, including utilising social media, to better pick up tensions and allow us to be proactive in dealing with those. National mobilisation plans have been developed, tested, and exercised to ensure that we can effectively and rapidly respond to major challenges of the type England experienced last August. On top of ensuring we can always get officers to potential trouble spots quickly and in sufficient numbers, we have reviewed the tactics and equipment that public order officers use to ensure we are in the best possible position to ensure public safety.

We want the public to be clear on what they can expect from us in the range of public order situations that the police service face. We always have – and always will – facilitate peaceful protest. Where someone decides that they want to use violence or the threat of violence against people or property, then we will tackle it robustly in a way that is firm but also fair and proportionate to the circumstances, with the aim of securing convictions for those that break the law.

To that end we have developed a National Public Order Framework which aims to describe the role of the police in dealing with disorder, and gives clear guidance to practitioners on how to respond in different situations. It makes absolutely clear what response the public will get from the police when incidents occur. Public consultation will begin on that document later this year, and it has already begun with stakeholders.

The public should be reassured that we are in a better position than ever to respond to public order threats, and our ultimate guide always remains the ideas that Sir Robert Peel set out almost two hundred years ago: the basic mission of the police service is prevent both crime and disorder, and our aim must be the absence of both.

If faced with the same circumstances what would be different? We would certainly be able to detect the rising community tension earlier and better respond. We could get officers to where they are needed much faster, and they will be better trained, equipped, and prepared.

Ian Learmonth is the Chief Constable of Kent Police and ACPO lead for the public order and public safety working group.