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.


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  • rate this

    Comment number 892.

    For the information of the usual Tory rent-a-quotes on here the people rioting are NOT Labour supporters, I doubt if one of them has ever, or will ever, cast a vote. So the obvious question is "Why did they not do this under Labour?" Simple, Labour understood that it was cheaper to bung these scum a few quid to keep them quiet than to adopt the penny wise pound foolish Tory philosophy.

  • rate this

    Comment number 891.

    Why are you blaming the police? The police are goverened by parliament and by Theresa May and the prime minister. DO NOT USE THE POLICE AS A SCAPE GOAT PLEASE. We should be standing behind our police force and praising them. Typical BBC reporting - liberal as always.

  • rate this

    Comment number 890.


    Really. Explain to me how all the economic migrants can find jobs, sometimes more than 1. Is that these jobs are not good enough for those on benefit or that benefits are too high to make such jobs attractive? Those 3m people change - some find work, others are added to the unemployment total.

    There are generations of families who have never worked, and never will. No more!!!

  • rate this

    Comment number 889.

    Sadly, some families have lived for generations by a combination of state benefits and thieving. When I moved away from Salford about 12 years ago, someone had to guard the removal van with a stick to fend off packs of feral children, most not even into their teens. Those kids could now be the parents of the youngest Manchester rioters. Zero tolerance of petty crime is needed to break the cycle.

  • rate this

    Comment number 888.

    To those asking why this doesn't happen in places like Iceland, or Denmark, it's because London has over 15 times the population of the whole of Iceland combined, and more than Denmark and Iceland put together.

    In a city this big it's far more likely there's enough bad eggs in society for them to be able to reach the critical mass required for this sort of chaos.

  • rate this

    Comment number 887.

    This is the result of 13 years of a socialist government who refused to make the indiviudal responsibile for their actions & instead allowed people to blame "society" for their misfortune

    All politicians now have a choice of whether or not to support decent hard working people or allow mindless minority to rule - I suspect we'll hear tough talk from all sides but weak action

  • rate this

    Comment number 886.

    715. suzkid
    "...Daily Telegraph readers? When they talk of getting tough it is just laughable and shows what a bunch of 'right wing nutters' they are. Where were they when the bankers stole? Where were they when the politicians stole (including our so called PM)?....? Gutless people.

    'So rioting's OK? Imbecilic''

    Yes, the truth does indeed hurt.

  • rate this

    Comment number 885.

    Statistically speaking, the looters have got away with it. The insurance claims will hit all businesses in the premiums hikes. A few businesses will shut permanently adding to the lack of jobs and reasons why the shiftless aren't at work. The police are on overtime and no doubt trade is brisk on the black market. Judges won't jail them.

    Until crime doesn't pay, this will keep happening.

  • rate this

    Comment number 884.

    47 Minutes ago

    Taking away financial support is likely to be counter productive. A better solution .....Thugs and violent offenders should be incarcerated instead.

    Or pay the benefits in vouchers that need to be earned. Membership of working parties and stigmatised. I would extend this to include parents of under 16s involved too. The unruly children can work for the parents' benefit.

  • rate this

    Comment number 883.

    Why the so called poor people in the society always think that the rich owe them....i stay in accra ghana and a lot of these armed robbers are from deprived communities and they think by robbing they taking their share of the cherry..its quite unfortunate what is happening in london...been in london before and i met lots of black or minority people who have made it big through their own toil

  • rate this

    Comment number 882.

    I see the blame games already begun with the PM having a dig at police tactics.
    get a yellow jacket on and go do it yourself.See rthe big society in all it's glorious technicolor.
    Good luck.
    I'll be waiting aty A&E to pick up the pieces.
    It would certainly raise moral.

  • rate this

    Comment number 881.

    You either want solutions or revenge. By all means kick people out of their council houses (although a lot were privately housed), withdraw their benefits, but don`t think for a second this will make things better, because it won`t. It will have the opposite effect. What you will see is an underclass more angry and more willing to make thier voices heard and more ready to use violence.

  • rate this

    Comment number 880.

    @ 746.PFC_Kent

    " 'Time for a general election...' There was one, Labour lost, yes they lost"

    Labour didn't win - but neither did the Tories or the LibDems.

  • rate this

    Comment number 879.

    I'm gutted with the level of primitivism seen the past days in the UK. Thanks God i live in a civilised country!
    Greetings from Serbia

  • rate this

    Comment number 878.

    National Service? For all, of course? Every teen aged say 16-18? 'Nice' families' kids' too? Happy to pay more tax to house, clothe and feed them? 'Put them in uniform and send them to Afghanistan'? 12 year olds? With machine guns? The British Army campagined for years to END National Service. They fight around the world to STOP child soldiering. Sounds like you'd enjoy Somalia. Get a boat.

  • rate this

    Comment number 877.

    Hmm to all those baying for blood on these boards I would point out that loss of property was the first thing that the Nazis did to Jews in Germany.
    Mind you if you actually paid attention to history you wouldn't be calling out for higher punishments.
    They should be dealt with within the confines of the law and the law as it is. Start changing that and you risk so much more.

  • rate this

    Comment number 876.

    My 7-year-old son asked me why the Americans were looting British shops. I told him that they were not Americans but British. He couldn't comprehend and with exasperation asked me if they were mad to loot their shops. I couldn't answer.

  • rate this

    Comment number 875.

    Where does this hatred of benefit claimants come from?
    Half of the people here are completely brainwashed into blaming benefits claimants for everything that is wrong.
    Half of the benefits claimed go to PRIVATE LANDLORDS in the form of housing benefit.
    There is a 2 million shortfall in jobs in the uk.
    You want to see riots? Cut benefits further.
    As Dave says - 'were all in this together'.

  • rate this

    Comment number 874.

    This governments attitude is all wrong. Cameron has described this element of the community "sick". Another MP said England is developing a "menacing underclass".
    Why is it developing a menacing underclass? Because those at the top are corrupt? Britain is not a good place to live for a young person. The average age of a 1st time home buyer is now 38. Highly skilled graduates cannot get jobs.

  • rate this

    Comment number 873.

    Give it up, your alias already makes it abundantly clear what you think. If you and the rest of the left weren't acting as agents provocateur this may not have happened."

    Perhaps you should 'give it up'? Your 'it's always the left's fault' is a little tiresome.


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