I cannot say how sorry I was to read in the Ealing “Gazette” that former Borough Commander Andy Rowell was leaving both Ealing and the Met.
I cannot think of anyone who would want to let this news pass without comment and I should place on record my personal thanks to Ch. Superintendent Rowell, and the very great appreciation of my constituents, for his leadership and his wholehearted and unstinting commitment to the borough and its people.
The so-called London riots of August 2011 may seem like a long time ago but there were days when the very fabric of society seemed to be tearing apart and anyone who saw the mayhem or witnessed the terrifying mobs pouring down streets lit by the flames of burning buildings and to the soundtrack of shattering glass will ever forget those summer days and nights.
Andy Rowell was the breakwater, the one person who stood firm against the incoming tide of criminal violence, and even though he had very few officers under his command he held the line in Ealing and that thin blue line never broke.
There were, for sure, other heroes and heroines. The Council officers who answered the call to come in to the Town Hall, council leader Julian Bell who was at the heart of the action co-ordinating the response, the paramedics and firefighters and the civilians who were not going to stand back while our borough was burned, our people brutalised and our shops and homes looted but it was Andy Rowell who stood alone in the Uxbridge Road and said “No”.
There was a lot of nonsense talked at the time about an uprising of the dispossessed but all the people that I’ve met who participated in the riots seemed to me to be motivated by excitement, criminality and being swept up in a great adventure.
It is a truly telling statistic that of the near 4,000 people charged or cautioned in August 2011 1,500 have since reoffended and their crimes range from killings to rapes.
These were the people who poured into central Ealing intent on malice, mayhem and in one awful case – murder.
If it hadn’t been for Andy Rowell I dread to think what might have happened to Ealing.
I don’t know what the future holds for Andy Rowell but his pride of place in our recent past here in Ealing is secure.
We will never forget his courage and strength in August 2011 and his inspirational leadership and strategic skill throughout all his time in what is after all his home borough of Ealing.
Thank you Borough Commander Andy Rowell – thank you Andy.
Ealing was lucky to have you at the helm and you take our very best wishes with you as you move on in life.