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 1152.

    ...But then we weigh such HEAVY judgment on powerless people destroying property. When the people revolt we say that society has broken down and that "these people" have no morality. Was it not broken and immoral when Enron inflated it's numbers before going belly-up, taking with it the retirement savings of thousands of people?...

  • rate this

    Comment number 1151.

    There is a very big problem which has been overlooked in all the "blame" discussions. When schools have had their ability to discipline curtailed...when teachers are frightened of even giving a child a verbal dressing down, you create a situation wherein children believe they have all the rights and no responsibilities. Give UK schools stronger disciplinary powers.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1150.

    Locking them up costs us MORE money! There are so many projects, of a simple nature, that need taking care of, yet funding is not there to pay for it. Put these people to work, let them pay for their crimes and "work" them off. It should teach them responsibility at least. Better than fining them, they have nothing to pay with! They may think twice before destroying anything in future.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1149.

    ...I don't condone random violence or "looting". But I do understand the frustration of feeling disassociated from the larger society. I am one of the people who feels anger at seeing bankers RUIN the global economy and face no sanction, no repercussion...

  • rate this

    Comment number 1148.

    I find the comments made by pundits and most members of the general public to be typically reactionary and devoid of analysis...

  • rate this

    Comment number 1147.

    Can people stop staying "torched"? (And "kicking off'.)

  • rate this

    Comment number 1146.

    920. paula mcdonald

    Paula - look at the facts. This has got NOTHING to do with benefits. The folk in court come from all sorts of backgrounds - most have jobs. It's easy to blame the "feral underclass" - it's always easier to blame the "Other" - and it's a lot harder to ask searching questions about the values we espouse.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1145.

    Football, and footballers, have an important part to play as this is undoubtedly part of the problem. Unless the professional clubs and players make much more substantial contributions of time and money to their local communities in return for the support they receive, then the battlefield will move into their grounds. They could set an example by showing respect to authority ie the referees.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1144.

    Why are there animal rights protesters in prison for ten years for doing a fraction of what these people have done when they just get a slap on the wrist. Why do Gregg Avery and Natasha Avery have to serve ten year sentences and yet rioters just get let off to do it again. The justice system is a joke as the sentence never reflects the crime.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1143.

    ...We live together or we perish together, but none of us is so different than the other. It is only degress on the same scale that separate us all.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1142.

    To gain control of the streets, we need first to regain control of the police. Their holding back at the beginning was part of their campaign against the cuts. The rioters are the criminals but the police now put more resources into public relations and cultivating image than into policing.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1141.

    I say put all the arsonists and looters in social housing... at Her Majesty's Pleasure.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1140.

    Glad to see the bbc changed its headlines from the British riots - errm BBC not one riot in scotland, afterall up here even the terrorists get a smack even if they are on fire trying to blow one of our airports up !

  • rate this

    Comment number 1139.

    So David Cameron thinks there weren't enough police on the streets? Perhaps he should speak to his Home Secretary about the budget cuts? We have lost so many experienced officers recently due to this it is hardly surprising there is a lack of officers able to respond. If they desimate the force why are they surprised it's no longer as effective as it was, and that goes for all forces across the uk

  • rate this

    Comment number 1138.

    Maybe when they've finished giving out asbo's to this lot they can start jailing more of the MPs who have been looting from the British public, and not just trainers and TVs.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1137.

    Thanks Dave for advising us the Police got it wrong.
    Where were you, your Home Secretary, Mayor, or Chancellor?
    Not on the streets of London or patrolling the riot areas in the regions.
    Three days ago you and Boris were telling us the Police were doing a fine job. While you were tipping your waitress Britain was Burning.
    Your lack of leadership astounds. OTC prepares u better than Bullenden

  • rate this

    Comment number 1136.

    853. suzkid

    "It's about innovation, starting your own business, creating your own job. Developing useful, self-reliant skills. "

    I agree with your values - but banks aren't lending. Buying UK products really would help our trade deficit and return taxes to the government to pay down debt. Consumer demand is very low - the country has too much personal debt.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1135.

    There really isn't a lot of difference between the intelligence of David Cameron and that of the rioters. "The police got it" wrong according to him and "far too few police" says the man who is about to cut police numbers because he knows best.
    Add to that, the police have their hands tied behind their backs because if you hurt on intimidate a rioter you could end up in court as well.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1134.

    We live in a ridiculously unequal society. In the last two years of "dire economic circumstances" boardroom pay has risen by 107%; boardroom pensions have risen to £175K pa. Everyone else sees wage freezes and cuts.
    Divisions like that create tensions. That doesn't excuse those who loot or burn or assault others. They must be punished and we must have the rule of law. But we also need justice

  • rate this

    Comment number 1133.

    Removing social housing & benefits can only lead to more criminality. Short sentences and community service aren't effective. Surely we want sustained behavioural change? How about enforced (non-active) military service? It would instill discipline, authority, hard-work, affiliation, pride, self-worth, esteem and teamwork. Surely a better family than a gang with male role models to look up to.


Page 44 of 101


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