UK Politics

David Cameron back councils planning to evict rioters

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Media captionPrime Minister David Cameron: "All irresponsibility should be punished."

The prime minister has said people who "loot and pillage their own community" should be evicted from council houses.

Wandsworth in London has become the first council to serve an eviction notice over the riots, but several others are also considering the move.

David Cameron told the BBC he thought evictions were a way of "enforcing responsibility in our society".

He said those who might struggle as a result "should have thought of that before they started burgling".

Nottingham City Council, Salford City Council and Westminster, Greenwich and Hammersmith and Fulham councils in London have all said they will consider serving eviction notices.

At present, local authorities can apply them only if troublemakers are involved in disorder in their local area.

But Community Secretary Eric Pickles is planning a 12-week consultation on whether powers should be extended to allow councils to punish those convicted of what he called "riot tourism" in other areas.

It is believed that many people who got involved in the riots and disorder travelled some distance to do so.

'Criminal networks'

Mr Cameron told the BBC's North West Tonight: "If you live in a council house you're getting a house at a discount from what other people have to pay and with that should come some responsibility.

"For too long we've taken a too soft attitude towards people that loot and pillage their own community. If you do that you should lose your right to the sort of housing that you've had at subsidised rates.

"Obviously, that will mean they've got to be housed somewhere else - they'll have to find housing in the private sector - and that will be tougher for them, but they should have thought of that before they started burgling."

The prime minister also said there could be a knock-on benefit to the policy because it "might help break up some of the criminal networks on some housing estates if some of these people are thrown out of their houses".

Earlier, Mr Pickles told the BBC it was not time to "pussyfoot around".

"These people have done their best to make people frightened on the streets where they live," he said.

"They've done their best to destroy neighbourhoods, and frankly I don't feel terribly sympathetic towards them."

Conservative-run Wandsworth Council has issued an eviction notice to a council tenant whose son has appeared in court charged in connection with Monday night's disturbances in Clapham Junction.

The notice is the first stage in the legal process of eviction - the final decision will rest with a county court judge.

Neither the tenant nor their son can be named at this stage for legal reasons.

Council leader Ravi Govindia said: "This council will do its utmost to ensure that those who are responsible pay a proper price for their conduct."

The Department for Communities and Local Government is already consulting on proposals for a new mandatory power of possession for landlords with anti-social tenants.

The most popular e-petition on the government's website currently calls for convicted rioters to lose their benefits.

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