Riot Damages Act facing overhaul in wake of 2011 riots

Firefighters battle a large fire that broke out in shops and residential properties in Croydon The widespread public disorder of August 2011 started in London

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An independent review has recommended a series of changes to the Riot Damages Act in the wake of the riots that affected areas across England in 2011.

It examined compensation arrangements for those caught up in a riot. It was commissioned by the home secretary and will go out to consultation.

The original act was drawn up in Victorian times, making no allowances for damage to cars and other vehicles.

Independent reviewer Neil Kinghan said it was "well overdue for reform".

In his report, Mr Kinghan said the claims process needed to be faster and more efficient to ensure that smaller businesses were given the help they needed to get back on their feet quickly.

Also tasked with reviewing the definition of a riot and who should be liable, Mr Kinghan recommended that police continued to be liable.

Under the current Riot Damages Act of 1886, people who suffer loss or damages during a riot must claim compensation from the local police budget.

Start Quote

The wanton and widespread criminality caused enormous distress to a great many people and businesses”

End Quote Damian Green MP Justice minister

Following the riots of August 2011, police were inundated with claims and insurers estimated clean-up costs would reach £200m.

The riots started in London after the fatal shooting of Mark Duggan by police, and then spread to other towns and cities.

'Lack of preparedness'

Mr Kinghan said: "During my review I met a wide range of people affected by the riots and it was clear that whilst central and local government did their best, they were hampered by a lack of preparedness, both for the riots themselves and for the demands for compensation they generated.

"I was pleased to be given the opportunity to work on this review and I hope that government will carefully consider my recommendations."

His review also recommended that in the event of widespread riots a "riot claims bureau" staffed by experts should be set up to manage claims.

He also recommended modernising the language of the act and capping the amount of compensation that can be provided to insurers.

Justice Minister Damian Green said it was a "very thoughtful and constructive" report.

He added: "The riots that raged in London two years ago were utterly disgraceful. The wanton and widespread criminality caused enormous distress to a great many people and businesses.

"The measures in the Riot Damages Act provide a safety net but they have to be efficient and provide value for money for the taxpayer."

The government plans to launch a public consultation by the end of the year.

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