Nick Clegg announces panel to hear from riot victims


Nick Clegg: "I want them [the rioters] to face their victims"

An independent communities and victims panel will be set up to hear from those affected by the riots, the deputy prime minister has said.

Nick Clegg said it would not be a full public inquiry, but would report back to all three main party leaders.

He also said rioters who were not jailed would have to take part in community payback schemes in the areas and "look their victims in the eye".

Labour leader Ed Miliband has been calling for an inquiry into the riots.

He has accused the government of resorting to "knee-jerk gimmicks" in response to the disorder which affected London, Birmingham, Manchester and several other cities last week.

'Orange clothing'

In a speech in Whitehall, the deputy prime minister said those involved must be both punished and "made to change their ways".

"That's why those people who behaved so despicably last week should have to look their victims in the eye," he said.

"They should have to see for themselves the consequences of their actions and they should be put to work cleaning up the damage and destruction they have caused so they don't do it again."

Start Quote

It's only by listening to the communities affected that we'll get the solutions we need”

End Quote Ed Miliband Labour leader

He said those convicted but not jailed would be made to go out into the communities they vandalised wearing "orange clothing" to carry out clean-up work.

And he urged anyone with ideas about what work they should do to contact their local probation service.

Mr Clegg said the victims' panel would be chaired by an independent figure with knowledge of some of the issues concerned and would report back in six to nine months.

"It won't be a public inquiry, it won't be established under the Inquiries Act, but it will serve as a way in which victims and communities can have their voice heard," he said.

As well as the panel, Mr Clegg said the Cabinet Office would be tendering for a contract to do research into the communities affected by the disturbances to find out more about "what happened, who did what and why they did it".

Mr Clegg said he wanted to break the "dismal cycle of repeat crime" which was reflected in the fact that 60% or more of the adults in court because of last week's disturbances had previous convictions or were known to the police.

In an effort to do that, he announced a pilot scheme - to be launched in two regions - in which all offenders leaving jail will be "met at the prison gates by providers in the Work Programme" who will make sure they go through a "tough process" to get into a job.

He said there would "be an element of compulsion" to require all offenders to take part, but did not give details about any sanctions.

'Grassroots process'

Mr Miliband welcomed the fact that the government had "responded to calls for a commission into the riots".

"It's only by listening to the communities affected that we'll get the solutions we need to make sure this doesn't happen again," he said.

"A commission reporting to all three party leaders gives us the chance to come together, work together, and make the changes we need."

But the Labour leader said the "real lesson" from the riots was that "people want visible, effective policing", and therefore, the public would not understand why ministers were pressing ahead with planned cuts to police budgets that will see officer numbers reduced.

Community Payback jacket Offenders taking part in community payback wear orange jackets to make them more visible

Asked whether ministers had responded to pressure from Labour, Mr Clegg said: "It's not a question of who has persuaded who of what. There have been various discussions between the party leaders over the weekend and, indeed, yesterday.

"We are not there yet in terms of the details, [but] the principle is really clear. We don't want a grandees committee, we want a grassroots process where people in the communities affected and the victims who have been so damaged and hurt can give their views."

Several senior Liberal Democrats have expressed concern about demands from Conservative ministers, including David Cameron, to strip those convicted over the riots of benefits and council housing.

Mr Clegg said he did support the idea but warned that it must be thought through.

"Of course, you need to be proportionate, of course, you need to be careful, of course, you don't want to create unintended consequences where the taxpayer ends up footing more of the bill or we create more social problems or problems of law and order.

"But the principles are clear: there is conditionality in our benefits system, you can't just expect a blank cheque whatever you do, that there are consequences for your actions - that's built into the system already.

The deputy PM dismissed the suggestion that the riots were linked to the coalition's spending cuts.

"It is simply ludicrous to suggest that someone smashed a window to steal a BlackBerry, to steal the latest pair of Adidas trainers, because they didn't like government policy," he said.

"If you don't like government policy come and protest in Parliament Square."


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  • rate this

    Comment number 72.

    What colour clothing should the bankers who caused the financial crisis wear so that we can identify them too?

  • Comment number 71.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this

    Comment number 70.

    Please stop using the word British when its an English problem

  • rate this

    Comment number 69.

    @65. HappySnapper22

    Only a small number were held to account as only a small number actually broke the law. The fact that the law allowed such abuse of the system is ridiculous and needed to be fixed, but that does unfortunately mean that many were simply playing the game, which was morally but not legally wrong.

  • rate this

    Comment number 68.

    @56. mrcynict4

    Yes because that is how you fix things. By running away.

    Please go because or country needs people like you as much as it does criminal rioters...... ie not at all.

  • rate this

    Comment number 67.

    Only a tiny number ever of them ever got called to account."

    So, when did two wrongs ever make a right?

  • rate this

    Comment number 66.

    Knee jerk, short term stuff.

  • rate this

    Comment number 65.

    Whilst I dont condone violence, robbery and looting its interesting to contrast the establishments approach to some of those on the fringes of the riots who committed very minoir offences to the very many MPs and Lords who systamatically fleeced the tax payer of tens, sometimes hundreds of thousands of pounds over many years. Only a tiny number ever of them ever got called to account.

  • rate this

    Comment number 64.

    when will the media realise that the cause of the riots were the same as the cause of the riots in los angeles namely an attack by the police on a member of the public?the roiting started when a protest by the public in response to the shooting and killing of a member of the public was hijacked by thugs,this then spread like wildfire by a disenchanted few, who saw a chance for free stuff.

  • rate this

    Comment number 63.

    Is anybody aware that those "sentenced" to carry out 'community service' are given expenses for lunch!? Yes, seriously. Does this entice most to carry out their sentence? Probably until after dinner time, yes!

    Committ assault and get a free meal. Madness.

  • rate this

    Comment number 62.

    "Mike from Brum
    What about Nick Clegg having to face HIS VICTIMS???
    He made promises to every single student in this country and then did a total 'u' turn on them."

    If you can't understand the clear difference between a promise that could not be fulfilled in practice and actual and unwarranted harm caused to persons and property, then you must have a strange moral compass.

  • rate this

    Comment number 61.

    Another gimmick. This coalition are producing a new gimmick for every news headline.
    It's the new fashion in politics, come out with some fancy sounding phrase or idea and you'll go far. Don't worry about results, there will be some good excuse or some other headline to detract from those.

  • rate this

    Comment number 60.

    Re 24. Isn't this just another face of the 'entitlement' culture. Whether it's benefits, allowances, designer goods, or plasma TVs. Many think there is no point in working to earn to buy things.

    But then do not bankers and CEOs feel 'entitled' to their massive pay and bonus packages? Did MPs not feel 'entitled' to their disreputable expenses?
    There is a little whiff of hyprocricy........

  • rate this

    Comment number 59.

    This is all conjecture. There will be a queue of solicitors looking to defend anyone punished in any way out of the ordinary under the Human Rights act. Depriving people (rightly or wrongly) of their homes, benefits, "diginity" by having to fce their victims etc will be challenged in the Courts at evry turn.

  • rate this

    Comment number 58.

    Mr.Milliband is hoping for an INQUIRY - because?

    He is desperately hoping that an 'Inquiry' will be be much more likely to put the riot-problem down to simple 'Innequality' - caused by Government 'cuts' - RATHER than highlight the massive Social-failings of their PC HR Dogmatic, '(Financial) Sweets-for-Votes' antics that Labour perpetrated for 13 years - Which TRULY caused our 'Broken Society'.

  • rate this

    Comment number 57.

    Here we go. Give them an inch and they'll take a mile. A 'rioting and looting' industry is being created.
    Panels, commissions, trbunals, reviews, enquiries, how long before a 'czar' and task force. The ususal public sector job creation programme. How long will we have to wait before the 'looting equality co-ordinator' jobs start appearing in the Guardian?

  • rate this

    Comment number 56.

    It just has to faced that the hinge has busted on this once great nation. It is not just the yobbos but even the great institutions of state are collapsing. Candidly, I would advise anyone who can leave to leave.

  • rate this

    Comment number 55.

    If the politicians don't know what the general public think they must be stupid.

    For goodness sake lets have actions not endless talking that gets nowhere.

  • rate this

    Comment number 54.

    A Livberal leader saying that people ought to be punished???? Obviously things change when they get in Government then.

    Ed Miliiband...looking and sounding more like something off Sesame Street than anyone we should take seriously. Spitting Image would love this guy.

  • rate this

    Comment number 53.

    42, Interesting comment, but what are you taking for recreational purposes?


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