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 1172.

    Cutting benefits - what do you expect from a delusional, spiteful PM who stucks two fingers at those he is impoverishing by spending £10,000 a week on a tennis coach? He can obviously afford a £10,000 a week paycut but would rather see the poor in this country suffer. Why does gov. policy never directly affect them or theirs? It's no wonder our youth are angry when the gov. have made us impotent

  • rate this

    Comment number 1171.

    Zakman, homelessness & poverty are being created by the rioters. Homes have been destroyed by these thugs, Tottenham's Aldi is gone, where many people on tight budgets shop.Even more people will be out of work now as result of these actions. There is a disconnect with many young people and money. They don't understand that jobs are created by business, which pay tax, which pays benefits.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1170.

    932. Motormind
    1 HOUR AGO
    Everyone in the country has been affected by these riots, this fact should reflect the punishments.

    The banks mismanagement affected way more people than the riots - £850 billion pounds worth of tax payers money to bail them out. They 'paid' by awarding themselves £12 billion in bonuses.


  • rate this

    Comment number 1169.

    Lets bring back the cane in schools, and let parents teach there children good morals

    We have lots of "" do gooders "" in this country .now see were it as got you all ..no were

  • rate this

    Comment number 1168.

    "far too few police". I expect soon to hear of a scheme where anybody with any money left will be allowed to hire their own 'security forces' to defend their 'Englishman's home'. We are overpopulated; perhaps Cameron is right and we should start putting in place the right environment for a hundred years of Civil Wars to reduce the ratio of peasants to old Etonian noblemen. Who voted for this?

  • rate this

    Comment number 1167.

    We have selected to ourselves other minister and the government.
    Have saved on training of youth and social benefits?

  • rate this

    Comment number 1166.

    The PM:

    Wider powers of curfew and dispersal orders
    New powers for police where criminality is suspected

    The problem is to define what suspicion means. The law says that the police can stop and search someone when criminality is suspected, and the police take that to mean whenever they want.

    They never have to justify why they suspect someone.

    Suspicion, how do you measure suspicion?

  • rate this

    Comment number 1165.

    Cameron's measures - I have no issue with most of them but the first two underline how the government see this as another opportunity to restrict the rights and liberties of law abiding citizens to peacefully protest government policy (which is ultimately responsible for the society we get), The fact they mention phony libertarian issues proves this was premeditated to undermine rational objection

  • rate this

    Comment number 1164.

    The Prime Minister acknowledges that the "police waited to long to act" Would the Prime Minister also acknowledge that he waited too long to come back from his holiday?

  • rate this

    Comment number 1163.

    But the riots were a good thing Its woken every one up and to now move on! we could not of stayed in the past when times have changed and more immigration! The riots have given us a chance to update to today's way of life! The government to get a reality check! David Cameron used the words (sick) well sick people should be looked after and cared for! Just shows you how he would treat the Sick!

  • rate this

    Comment number 1162.

    Ironic it all seems, while the UK deploy troops to a foreign land yet are not deployed at homeland during such epic chaos. Obviously the police alone cannot contain the situation. Losses are at the cost of innocent folks and those who were hurt during the grand theft auto attempts. My heart goes out to them.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1161.

    People are in the streets because every day, around them, they see ...the hypocrisy of the ruling class. Every day images of wealth and happiness are thrust in our faces, but the poor are supposed to suffer it wisely while the rich are free to plunder. This model is transparent. If it is wrong to riot in the streets, then we must also agree that it is wrong to riot and plunder in the boardroom...

  • rate this

    Comment number 1160.

    Over 90,000 people think it is a good idea to stop the only income of the people responsible for steeling? That would be sure to deter them wouldn't it? What really hurts these people is the loss of liberty and the bling their uneducated minds have learned to worship through the media of a decadent society. This sickness, greed and lack of morality comes like a torrent of sewage from the very top

  • rate this

    Comment number 1159.

    ...Is society not broken already, when the youth, born and bred in a nation, are made to feel not a part of it because they do not own enough wealth or their skin is not white enough? Is society not already broken when the very people occupying the seats of power are in the pocket of a media mogul?!...

  • rate this

    Comment number 1158.

    ...Was society not broken and immoral when ratings agencies, paid by banks, gave the same banks triple A ratings before those very banks also went belly-up, wrecking our global economy and throwing millions of people out of their homes? ...

  • rate this

    Comment number 1157.

    1 Hour ago
    798. enfield40
    1 HOUR AGO

    "there are jobs"

    Check the facts before you post.

    When i applied for a job and really, REALLY tried
    and asserted myself ... i got a job! Odd that. Stop making excuses, and being a typical excuse making leftie; jobs are out there if you really try hard enough. Or are the poor rioting dears too proud for minimum wage shop work?

  • rate this

    Comment number 1156.

    Still no access to the stop benefits petition on Directgov. Let the people speak!

  • rate this

    Comment number 1155.

    938. 5XX
    1 HOUR AGO

    Prisoners cost £28k a year
    Death penalty - more murders in the US than here.
    Ageing population - who will work in the future?
    Why should single mums be punished for what their fathers do?
    You think that people should be imprisoned because the are likely to commit a crime?
    People are more likely to reoffend BECAUSE they go to prison.
    Its University for criminals.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1154.

    I do not condone in any way the violent disorder we have seen on our streets in recent days. When David Cameron was at university, however, he was a member of The Bullingdon Club, whose activities included trashing restaurants they were dining in. Pot, kettle, black Mr C?

  • rate this

    Comment number 1153.

    No matter what anybody says there is absolutely no excuse for this behavior. People have made themselves unemployable by the way they dress and look with all these body piercings, you have to make yourself presentable and respectable and respect others and their property, i'ts not rocket science you get out of life what you put into it. Simples. Oh and greatest respect to the Police.


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