England riots: Cameron says police admit to wrong tactics


David Cameron: 'The tactics the police were using weren't working'

The police admit they got their riot tactics wrong, the prime minister has said, as he announced measures to help homeowners and businesses.

David Cameron told MPs the riots in cities across England were "criminality pure and simple", but there were "far too few police" on the streets.

In an emergency recall of Parliament, he announced a crackdown on facemasks and a review on the use of curfews.

More than 1,500 arrests have been made since the unrest began on Saturday.

From court

A 17-year-old aspiring dancer who handed herself in after seeing her picture in a newspaper was among the defendants at a busy, yet efficient, Westminster Magistrates' Court.

An estate agent and students studying accountancy, journalism and engineering faced the district judge on charges arising from the riots.

The fate of an 18-year-old man who bought sports clothes which had been stolen from JD Sports in Clapham illustrated how seriously these offenders were being treated.

Ordinarily punished by a fine or community service, he was remanded in custody to face the heavier prison sentences of the crown court.

"Given the seriousness of the circumstances" was the repeated refrain of the district judge as she refused bail and sent each defendant to the crown court.

She said her power, to send people to jail for six months, was not enough.

Mr Cameron told MPs that it had become clear there had been problems in the initial police response to the disorder.

"There were simply far too few police deployed on to our streets and the tactics they were using weren't working," said the prime minister

"Police chiefs have been frank with me about why this happened.

"Initially the police treated the situation too much as a public order issue - rather than essentially one of crime.

"The truth is that the police have been facing a new and unique challenge with different people doing the same thing - basically looting - in different places all at the same time."

Mr Cameron also set out a range of measures aimed at helping businesses and homeowners affected by the riots.

They included:

  • To look at whether it would be right to stop people communicating via social media when "we know they are plotting violence, disorder and criminality"
  • Plans to look at whether wider powers of curfew and dispersal orders were needed
  • New powers for police to order people to remove facemasks where criminality is suspected
  • Courts could be given tougher sentencing powers
  • Landlords could be given more power to evict criminals from social housing
  • Plans to extend the system of gang injunctions across the country and build on anti-gang programmes, similar to those in the US
  • He said the government would meet the cost of "legitimate" compensation claims under the Riot Act and that the time limit would increase from 14 to 42 days
  • A £10m Recovery Scheme to provide additional support to councils in making areas "safe, clean and clear"
  • A new £20m High Street support scheme to help affected businesses get back up and running quickly
  • Plans for the government to meet the immediate costs of emergency accommodation for families made homeless

The prime minister ruled out bringing in the Army, but said "every contingency" was being looked at - including whether the Army could undertake tasks that would free up more police for the front line.

He confirmed a reinforced police presence of 16,000 officers on the streets of London would remain in place over the weekend.

MPs debated the riots for more than seven hours - with most agreeing they were caused by criminals rather than protesters - and that there was no excuse for the actions of a lawless minority.

There was also universal praise for bravery of police - but some, including Home Secretary Theresa May, followed Mr Cameron's lead in criticising their tactics.

Mrs May said policing by consent was the British way, but robust action was needed.

Former Labour communities secretary Hazel Blears said police in her Salford constituency had briefly lost control of the streets - something that was "absolutely devastating" for the community.

'Absolute priority'

More than 20 Labour MPs - led by shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper - have called on the government to reverse planned police cuts.

Labour leader Ed Miliband repeated their calls and urged the government to reconsider the plans.

Brian Paddick, former deputy assistant commissioner, criticised police over the riots

He said: "The events of the last few days have been a stark reminder to us all that police on our streets make our communities safer and make the public feel safer.

"Given the absolute priority the public attaches to a visible and active police presence, does the prime minister understand why they would think it is not right that he goes ahead with the cuts to police numbers?

Mr Cameron insisted the cuts were "totally achievable" without any reduction in the visible policing presence and said that a "surge" of officers - as seen in recent days - would still be possible in future.

BBC political correspondent Iain Watson said Lib Dem sources had told him there was "absolute coalition unity" on reducing police budgets and the cuts would not be reversed.

Meanwhile, Commons Home Affairs Select Committee chairman Keith Vaz has told the BBC its members have voted unanimously to hold an inquiry into the causes of the riots.

It will also look at the role of social networking, the police response and police resources.

In other developments:

Meanwhile, the Met Police have made 1,009 arrests and 464 people have been charged.

West Midlands Police have also arrested 389 people and 147 have so far been arrested in Manchester and Salford.

Courts sat through the night in London, Manchester and Solihull to deal with people arrested during the four nights of disturbances.

Mr Cameron told the Commons that anyone convicted of violent disorder would be sent to prison.

But Met Deputy Assistant Commissioner Stephen Kavanagh said some officers had voiced disappointment at the sentences handed out so far.

Mr Kavanagh added that there had since been "constructive conversations" between the home secretary, the Met commissioner and the courts.

The prime minister also offered his condolences to the families of Haroon Jahan, Shazad Ali and Abdul Musavir, who died when they were hit by a car in Birmingham on Tuesday night.

He called their deaths "truly dreadful".

Two youths and a man have been arrested on suspicion of murder, while a 32-year-old man arrested on Wednesday has now been been bailed.

The riots first flared on Saturday after a peaceful protest in Tottenham over the fatal shooting of Mark Duggan, 29, by police.

Mr Duggan's death is being investigated by the Independent Police Complaints Commission.


More on This Story

England riots

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites


This entry is now closed for comments

Jump to comments pagination
  • rate this

    Comment number 872.

    What does it take to actually get through to some people ? I am talking about this inane comment after the riots

    "Home Secretary Theresa May has repeated her belief that police budgets can be reduced without damaging their ability to do their jobs."

    Police leave and days off etc had to be cancelled to even come near to coping , are Police meant to work till they drop and for less pay etc ?

  • rate this

    Comment number 871.

    I am watching the events in Parkiaments & rightfully the condemnation of the law-breaking But, to Jack Straw's well aimed question the PM brought in the Thames valley, but that is hardly Tottenham or Salford. The PM keeps mentioning families & so do many Tories whilst really meaning single-parent families. Some of parents might working their butts off to meet the bills of Private Gas & Elecs.

  • rate this

    Comment number 870.

    We need to be firmer!. People are stating these criminals as YOUTHS there not just youths. As stated by two of the looters they are doing this to show that they can do what they want we need to show them they cannot do what they want. We need to protect our streets or this could be the start of whats to come if they know they can get away with this what is stopping them from carrying on

  • rate this

    Comment number 869.

    How can David Cameron Stand There And Say The Police Got THEIR tactics Wrong.. when it has been confirmed to the BBC the ORDER TO STAND DOWN... he has more front than Blackpool. Barn Door springs to mind.

  • rate this

    Comment number 868.

    We are all in this ____ together.

  • rate this

    Comment number 867.

    I think it's outrageous. These rioters should be told in no uncertain words, that if they want to make people homeless, and wreck lives, they should either do it in a pin stripe suit in the city in the banking sector, or in khaki in our army invading other countries, both proper, legal, and underwritten by us the taxpayer!

  • rate this

    Comment number 866.

    So this is how the anarchists 'FIGHT THE POWER', by mugging, murdering, assaulting and trying to burn people alive in there homes.

  • rate this

    Comment number 865.

    The corruption and exploitation of the public thats been displayed over the last few weeks in the government, media, police, banks, energy companies has been every bit as shameful as the rioters.

    This is what happens when a society focuses more on human rights than human justice.
    Take justice and accountability out of the system and both rich and poor start abusing it.

  • rate this

    Comment number 864.

    I don't like paying for looters and rioters on benefits to be housed and fed. But should we really evict them and stop benefits? What will happen then? Will they all be absorbed by neighbours? Will they suddenly get jobs instead and flats of their own? Or will they end up living on the streets, making things worse? The crimes are shocking but not exceptional. No point making things worse.

  • rate this

    Comment number 863.

    I am completely surprized to see these riots erupt all of a sudden. Is it driven by vengeance, economic situation or something else? London always took pride in the multi-cultural harmony. It is shaken. The riots spread within no time and the police and the administration started late to control the situation. We have Olympics next year. Hope, things get under control quickly.

  • rate this

    Comment number 862.

    Years of soft sentencing, soft policing, unlimited immigration creating ghettoes, criminals being put first, denigration of any deference to authority, a massive benefits gravy train etc has got us here. Congratulations to the progressive liberal left, are you happy with how your social experiment is turning out? I suspect most people are not.

  • rate this

    Comment number 861.

    @727 i
    A vile hierarchy - like baboons.

    I say old chap, you're being rather disrespectful to baboons!

  • rate this

    Comment number 860.

    This problem has been brewing for decades, and is mainly due to the country abandoning long term for casual relationships. Result is, children grow up with no moral compass and unrestrained through absent fathers. There is no immediate solution, but raising broadcast standards to exclude the promotion of irresponsible social behaviour would be a start.

  • rate this

    Comment number 859.

    2.45million unemployed
    2.45million unemployed
    2.45million unemployed
    2.45million unemployed
    480,000 job vacancies
    480,000 job vacancies
    480,000 job vacancies
    480,000 job vacancies
    Stop demonising the unemployed!

  • rate this

    Comment number 858.

    It is too easy to blame the Government and the Police. The rioters are totally responsible for this dreadful state of affairs. We should bring back capitol punishment and conscription. The majority of these people have never done a days hard work in their lives and don't need to because the decent citizens of this fine country keep them in benefits!! Let them rot on the forts in the River Humber.

  • rate this

    Comment number 857.

    Sadly these riots are the direct result of a succession of poor governments that have allowed the loud minority and the bleeding heart do-gooders to drag down what was once a great country.

    The Education System and the NHS are a shadow of what they once were.

    Find some real leaders and give your children hope.

  • rate this

    Comment number 856.

    David Cameron should be ashamed of himself. The police didn't get it wrong. They have had their hands tied by a government which has given criminals more rights than the officers who protect us. A 'tough on crime' message only carries weight if the men and women on the front line can actually take a tough stance. I'm more afraid of a 14yr old child in London than I ever was living in South Africa

  • rate this

    Comment number 855.

    I'll try again but don't think this comment is what BBC etc want to hear. We're now reaping the results of 4 decades of increasingly rejecting all the Christian values (morality, responsibility, importance of the family etc) that Society was once built on. All these suggested "solutions" are mere plasters put on a festering wound, but most people aren't prepared to accept the solutions required.

  • rate this

    Comment number 854.

    Growing up in apparent poverty is no excuse for this kind of behaviour. I come from that background but have I ever rioted or stolen or generally destroyed whatever I could get my hands on.No.instead I channeled myself into a more constructive direction,gaining qualifications & eventually starting my own business.Work & the willingness to work have to be a key.let them work for benefits.

  • rate this

    Comment number 853.

    "3,000,000 chasing 500,000 jobs. Here's a novel idea, you buy UK made goods."

    For Lordy's sake, the world has changed. It's not about jobs just 'being there'. It's not about 'buying stuff'.

    It's about innovation, starting your own business, creating your own job. Developing useful, self-reliant skills. It starts wih EDUCATION, which the rioters have chosen to throw away. Idiots.


Page 58 of 101


More UK stories



BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.