England riots: Police hit out at 'supercop' Bill Bratton plan

Sir Hugh Orde Sir Hugh Orde said violence levels in the US were different to those in the UK

UK police chiefs have reacted sceptically to plans for US "supercop" Bill Bratton to advise the government.

David Cameron has called for the former New York police chief to help address violence in English cities.

Association of Chief Police Officers' head Sir Hugh Orde said: "I am not sure I want to learn about gangs from an area of America that has 400 of them."

There have been no reports of unrest this weekend, as extra police numbers have been maintained on city streets.

Weekend court sittings are continuing to hear the cases of more than 1,000 people charged since violence flared last weekend.

Among those appearing before Birmingham magistrates were Joshua Donald, 26, and a 17-year-old boy who are charged with the murders of three men hit by a car during disruption in the city.

The pair were remanded to appear in Birmingham Crown Court on Monday.

Meanwhile, a peace rally is being held on Sunday afternoon in Winson Green, the neighbourhood where the men were killed. Up to 20,000 people are expected to attend.

Theresa May: "We need to learn lessons from those who have had experience of dealing with gangs"

Sir Hugh, president of the Association of Chief Police Officers (Acpo), questioned Mr Bratton's relevance in an interview with told the Independent on Sunday.

"If you look at the style of policing in the States, and their levels of violence, they are fundamentally different from here," he said.

"What I suggested to the home secretary is a more sensible approach, maybe to look across far wider styles of policing and - more usefully - at European styles; they, like us, are bound by the European Convention.

"My sense is, when we've done that, we will find the British model is probably the top."

Home Secretary Theresa May said Mr Bratton was to be consulted as part of a process of learning from people around the world who had experience of tackling gang culture.

"I'm going to be listening to people internationally - yes, from America, but from other parts of the world where they've been dealing with gangs - and also let's recognise the good work that's been done in the UK," Mrs May said.

'Inconsistency of guidance'

There has been friction between ministers and senior police in the aftermath of last week's nights of rioting.

Mr Cameron has suggested police were too timid, and with too few officers on the ground, in their early efforts to tackle the riots.

Senior officers rejected that claim, and have also clashed with government over whether police or ministers planned the surge in officer numbers on Tuesday that put an end to widespread violence in the capital.

Acting Metropolitan Police Commissioner Tim Godwin accused Parliament of offering "inconsistency of guidance" related to tackling public disorder.

"We sometimes are accused of excessive force and then we're accused of not being forceful enough," Mr Godwin said.

Since order was restored to the streets, there has also been a growing debate about anticipated reductions in police numbers as part of budget cuts.

Mr Godwin warned that policing of any future similar disturbances would be made even harder.

Labour's shadow policing minister Vernon Coaker said: "Tactics could only change when they had enough police, and the surge of numbers that we saw - that have brought the streets back under control in London as quickly as possible - could only take place once those numbers of police had been mobilised."

He added: "I think it proves that numbers of police count."

Chancellor George Osborne has dismissed calls to reverse cuts to police budgets in the wake of last week's violence.

Mrs May said: "It is possible to make cuts in police budgets without affecting their ability to do the job the public want them to do and ensuring the police can still provide front-line services."

Forces would have to move officers "out from their desks and out there on the streets", she said.

Before the courts

But Conservative London mayor Boris Johnson said there was "going to have to be an argument about money".

"The case I make to the government, and I'm going to continue to make, is that numbers matter," he told Sky News.

"What Londoners want to see now is loads of police out there on the streets - that's what's been successful over the last few days. That's the policy people want us to keep up with."

Start Quote

There is no rift between the police and the government, we fully support the police 100%”

End Quote Nick Clegg Deputy Prime Minister

In other developments related to last week's trouble in London, the East and West Midlands, Manchester, Liverpool and Gloucester:

  • The killers of a man shot dead in Croydon, south London, on Monday are believed to have been involved in looting, detectives have said. Three men have been arrested over the murder of 26-year-old Trevor Ellis
  • A 33-year-old man has become the fourth person arrested in connection with a fire that destroyed the family-run Reeves Furniture store during the violence in Croydon
  • Scotland Yard revealed that 1,401 people had now been arrested in connection with the unrest, and 808 charged. The force has released a further 44 images of suspects thought to be involved in rioting

Mr Godwin predicted that a total of about 3,000 people could eventually be brought before the courts in relation to the violence in London.

"That's yet to be worked through but we have lots and lots of images, we have lots and lots of CCTV and there were lots of people involved," he said.

Further sanctions

Writing in the Observer, Liberal Democrat deputy leader Simon Hughes warned against "knee-jerk solutions" in the wake of last week's riots.

As many Conservatives back plans to cut benefits and evict families of rioters from their homes, Mr Hughes warned such moves could "have the reverse effect to that intended".

The Bishop of Manchester, the Right Reverend Nigel McCulloch, has called for a return to moral values where respect for others is placed above possessions.

In a sermon for BBC Radio 4's Sunday Worship programme, Bishop McCulloch condemned "a me-first, ultra-consumerist culture, in which the quest for possession of things overrides a caring concern for others, and the key commandments become don't get caught and don't grass".

"This week we've had an unpleasant glimpse of the default position to which society inevitably returns when its moral imperatives are forgotten," he said.

Bill Bratton: "My assignment is to focus on the American experience dealing with gangs"

On a visit to Manchester on Saturday, Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg played down any dispute between the government and the police.

"There is no rift... we fully support the police 100%," he said.

"They have done a brilliant job in really difficult circumstances. The police themselves have said they want to review what happened and look at tactics and learn lessons."

In a statement, Downing Street said Mr Bratton had long-standing links with British policing and they thanked him for agreeing "to make himself available for a series of meetings in the UK in the autumn to share his experience of tackling gangs".

Mr Bratton - credited with restoring law and order in Los Angeles after riots in 1992 - said: "You can't arrest your way out of the problem.

"Arrest is certainly appropriate for the most violent, the incorrigible, but so much of it can be addressed in other ways and it's not just a police issue, it is in fact a societal issue."


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  • rate this

    Comment number 170.

    I think Cameron and May have lost touch with reality next thing we will hear is that they have invited Dirty Harry over as well

  • rate this

    Comment number 169.

    @159.Chazz Trinder
    "The police say they can’t learn anything from a policeman who has worked in areas with many gangs, as he can’t be much good"

    I think people underestimate UK police experience in dealing with gangs. Belfast, Glasgow, Nottingham and S. London all have/had quite serious problems, but gang prevalance is dampened by the very strategy that the forces are already using.

  • rate this

    Comment number 168.

    It is somewhat complacent and slightly arrogant to suggest we have nothing to learn from a successful U.S. policeman.
    However we are all to blame for allowing the politicians and wooly libertarians to get away with the 'let's not be judgmental' approach. We've had a few decades of not being judgmental and look where we are now.

  • rate this

    Comment number 167.

    Identifying and arresting those involved in looting and arson is only one aspect ; punishment commensurate with the offence is an equally important aspect.Images of those leaving court with token punishments is sickening. There should be a law created for 'crimes against the state' with a minimum tariff of 10 years ,and all those caught looting and willful fire raising should be tried under this.

  • rate this

    Comment number 166.

    With the cut backs to the police force how does Mr Cameron really justify his call for help to "super-cop" . Look around you how many police do you often see on the road or streets in the last year they are as endangered as an Mp who keeps promises and why.....government cutbacks.We need someone strong to lead us not for the good of his career or party but for the good of our country and values.

  • rate this

    Comment number 165.

    It is very easy to be critical, but the police were put in a horrific and highly unexpected situation this week. I think they deserve more support and praise from the government, especially considering how many of them were injured trying to keep the public safe.

  • rate this

    Comment number 164.

    What is it about our Police that they are to big to listen to any one else on this subject. If they knew all that was needed to know then the riots would not have happened.
    Hugh Orde seems to be confusing what happened on the streets of mainland with what his experience was in NI, two completley different Issues. Read the article in the telegraph "New Labours Toxic Legacy" Says it all!

  • rate this

    Comment number 163.

    UK police are criticised if they show force and criticised if they don't. When they do and someone gets hurt (even if it happens to be someone that was looking to hurt others) then the country goes into uproar and some use this as an excuse to start violence. And yet we're going to look to America to follow? If so then things are going to get a whole lot worse before we know it. Next step - guns!

  • rate this

    Comment number 162.

    ManicMij has it right, but it goes further than that. People talk about criminality, but don't talk about the lack of deterrents. Those girls who said they were looting "because we can" were right.

    We need to get back to basics where sentences are served in full, and free the police from PC agendas and let them do their jobs the way I believe the majority of us would like to see.

  • rate this

    Comment number 161.

    I note that Her Majesty awarded Mr Bratton with an honorary CBE for services to the United Kingdom, so he must have done something worthwhile. None of the accounts that I have read seem to have mentioned this honour, which is singular for an American.

  • rate this

    Comment number 160.

    Our Police Force did a great job at controlling the situations that took place all over the Country and it's about time we all stopped apportioning the blame at them and you CAMERON are demoralising our British Police Force by calling in an American Supercop who we do not need. Real life scenarios and paper based ones do not match in real world and I thank all the forces for their efforts.

  • rate this

    Comment number 159.

    The police say they can’t learn anything from a policeman who has worked in areas with many gangs, as he can’t be much good.

    Would the police prefer to take advice from a policeman who had responsibility for an area with no gangs or serious crimes?

    Many of the police’s problems stem from an institutional arrogance that makes them unwilling to accept criticism or advice.

  • rate this

    Comment number 158.

    I would like to know how much Bill Bratton is costing the Govt. to bring over, put up in accomodation, and his advice. What we need is more Police numbers, not less,with more money to use in policing our streets, NOT A CUT OF POLICING NUMBERS. What planet is our Govt. on?

  • rate this

    Comment number 157.

    Maybe this will start people wondering why something over 1000 people have died in custody without a single copper being held responsible. Riots and looting is wrong but so is shooting an innocent in the head 7 times and no one being held to account. Oh, yes, I forgot, the person in charge of that mess got the Queens Medal for policing so that's alright then.

  • rate this

    Comment number 156.

    Do nothing - about what I would expect from a career civil servant.
    Something that riot victims are all too familiar with.

  • rate this

    Comment number 155.

    It's so easy for politicians and non-police to say the police got it wrong. However, it was the Police Commissioner who told Cameron that tactics had been wrong in the early stages because they were treating it as a public order situation rather than one of criminality - an easy mistake to make given the initial peaceful protest. Cameron actually said as much in Parliament. Armchair critics!!!

  • rate this

    Comment number 154.

    Sir Hugh Orde needs to develop the humility to recognise that Bratton has far more experience in dealing with riots and gangs than any UK police officer.

    You're wrong there. Orde was Chief Constable of the PSNI for 7 years, so he has a vast array of experience in dealing with gang-related violence and organised riots. I think he knows best when it comes to UK gangs.

  • Comment number 153.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?

  • rate this

    Comment number 152.

    People are hitting out over the police not taking advice from an American. I suggest they read the plans again. Bratton is being asked to advise the Government.

    While I am sure Bratton will have some good advice, it needs to be done in consultation with our police and taking into account our society, bypassing the government for the time being.

  • rate this

    Comment number 151.

    No fair!, you Brits should be forced to take Bratton, we were foisted with your Peter Ryan who completely buggered Policing in NSW Australia for all eternity with his "Group Hug & Community Mediation" approach to crime & violence, we got Ryan's solution, then we got the Cronulla Riots, an Explosion in Middle Eastern Gang related Crime & continuing ineffective Policing, now it's YOUR turn.


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