Met Police focuses on 'dissuasion strategy' as it guards against riots

As London prepares for what could be more rioting, the Met Police's comms handling has shifted to a strategy of fierce dissuasion to those considering taking part in the illegal activities.

Met Police: dissuasion comms strategy
Met Police: dissuasion comms strategy

The Met Police’s comms handling of the riots that first took hold last Saturday night has been led by deputy director of public affairs Chris Webb followed by chief press officer Ed Stearns.

Director of public affairs and internal comms Dick Fedorcio is on holiday pending his hackgate IPCC investigation.

Stearns explained to PRWeek.com that the Met is leading the dissuasion strategy with tactics such as inviting press crews to arrests at looters’ houses following investigation of CCTV footage and keeping a constant stream of arrest numbers being passed to the media.

The Met’s Twitter feed is also focused on information about arrests and a Flickr site is showing a ‘rogues gallery’ of criminals photographed at the riot sites.

‘We’ve got to show that this won’t be tolerated,’ said Stearns. ‘There’s a priority to stop more people from joining in.’

Stearns added that this priority will also have a secondary purpose of reassuring residents.

Stearns stated that the Met has made no attempt to hold any kind of media blackout on the location of riots to stop news spreading of the incidents, explaining: ‘It’s been pretty clear that people wanting to get involved in this have done a lot of work on social media.’

He also denied that the London public’s trust in the Met is low due to it being led by a temporary commissioner, Tim Godwin. ‘We’ve shown that leadership is strong,’ he said. ‘The bravery of officers is beyond doubt, and we’re showing that.’

The 24-hour Met press office is taking around a thousand press calls a day, while holding dozens of one-to-one interviews with senior officers.

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