Text size:

  • Small
  • Normal
  • Large
Britain's Prime Minister David Cameron, flanked by Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg, left, and Finance Minister George Osborne, speaks during an emergency session of Parliament on Thursday  about the rioting in British cities.
Britain's Prime Minister David Cameron, flanked by Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg, left, and Finance Minister George Osborne, speaks during an emergency session of Parliament on Thursday about the rioting in British cities.
Britain's Prime Minister David Cameron, flanked by Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg, left, and Finance Minister George Osborne, speaks during an emergency session of Parliament on Thursday  about the rioting in British cities.

Britain's PM: 'We will not let a violent few beat us'

Britain's prime minister David Cameron addresses Parliament about the rioting and says, "We will not allow a culture of fear to exist on our streets. We will not let a violent few beat us."

LONDON // Britain's prime minister mentioned a potential role for the army and a drive against gangs among tough proposals unveiled yesterday as parliament met in emergency session following four nights of rioting on England's streets.

After heavy policing and drenching rain had prevented further trouble overnight on Wednesday, David Cameron told MPs that the world had looked on "appalled" at the looting, arson and violence in English cities.

"We will not allow a culture of fear to exist on our streets," Mr Cameron said. "We will not let a violent few beat us."

He said that the police and intelligence services were looking at ways to stop social media and such services as BlackBerry Messenger being used to organise trouble.

He also said the government would look at new powers for the police, including setting curfews and giving them the authority to remove face masks and hoods from anyone suspected of criminality.

And, as police across the country embarked yesterday on raids at dozens of homes of suspected looters, Mr Cameron revealed that, while he did not want to put soldiers on the streets, ministers were looking at whether the army could take on some police tasks to free up more front line officers. "Nothing should be off the table. Every contingency is being looked at," he said.

"We need to show the world, which has looked on frankly appalled, that the perpetrators of the violence we have seen on our streets are not in any way representative of our country - nor of our young people. We need to show them that we will address our broken society, we will restore a sense of stronger sense of morality and responsibility. And a year away from the Olympics, we need to show them the Britain that doesn't destroy, but that builds; that doesn't give up but stands up; that doesn't look back, but always forwards."

More than 1,300 people, including about 900 in London, have now been arrested, mainly in connection with looting, and courts in the capital, Manchester and Birmingham sat throughout the night dealing with offenders.

However, Stephen Kavanagh, the deputy commissioner of London's police force, admitted yesterday that some of his officers who had been on the streets had voiced disappointment at the sentences, including fines, handed out so far.

Mr Cameron told MPs that tougher sentences were being looked at, adding that there was evidence of inner-city gangs being involved in the organisation of the trouble.

Mr Cameron told lawmakers that he would look to cities like Boston for inspiration, and mentioned former Los Angeles and New York police chief Bill Bratton as a person who could help offer advice.

He said he wanted to look at cities including Boston and Glasgow that had fought gangs "by engaging the police, the voluntary sector and local government". The prime minister added: "I want this to be a national priority."

Mr Cameron singled out for praise Tariq Jahan, who appealed for calm after his son and two friends were run down and killed by a black driver from Birmingham.

The three victims, including two brothers, were among a group of young men guarding shops from looters on Tuesday night in a mainly Muslim area of a city where tensions have historically been high between neighbouring Asian and Afro-Caribbean communities.

There was a heavy police presence in Birmingham again last night, including officers dispatched from police forces in Scotland, and almost 16,000 police - five times the normal number - in London.

One victim of the riots is the Spurs-Everton football match, due to be played on Saturday at Tottenham, where rioting first broke out last weekend and where arsonists destroyed shops and homes on Tottenham High Road, which has remained closed since.

Although all other English Premier League games are expected to go ahead on the opening weekend of the new season, a Tottenham Hotspur Football Club spokesman said its game was being postponed because of "safety concerns relating to the infrastructure of the High Road and access to the stadium caused by last Saturday's riots".

Meanwhile, more than 90,000 people have signed an online petition on a government website calling for anyone convicted of taking part in the riots to lose any state benefits, such as unemployment handouts, they receive. If more than 100,000 sign - and so many tried to do so yesterday that the "e-petition" website crashed - the proposition could end up being debated in parliament.

The Association of British Insurers said that it expected its member companies would face claims for more than £200 million (Dh1.1bn) from businesses and homes that had been damaged or looted.

It was also announced that MPs on the House of Commons home affairs committee had unanimously voted to undertake an inquiry into the causes of this week's disturbances.

 

dsapsted@thenational.ae

Back to the top

More articles


Editor's Picks

 Iranian President Hassan Rouhani greets supporters after his arrival in Zahedan, the regional capital of Sistan and Baluchestan province on Tuesday, April 15, 2014. During Mr Rouhani's two-day visit, he will tour several other cities and hold meetings with local scholars and entrepreneurs. Maryam Rahmanian for The National

On the road with Hassan Rouhani

Iran's president is touring some of Iran's most underdeveloped provinces. Foreign correspondent Yeganeh Salehi is traveling with him.

 The Doha-based Youssef Al Qaradawi speaks to the crowd as he leads Friday prayers in Tahrir Square in Cairo, Egypt in February, 2011. The outspoken pro-Muslim Brotherhood imam has been critical of the UAE’s policies toward Islamist groups, adding to friction between Qatar and other GCC states. Khalil Hamra / AP Photo

Brotherhood imam skips Doha sermon, but more needed for GCC to reconcile

That Youssef Al Qaradawi did not speak raises hopes that the spat involving Qatar and the UAE, Saudi Arabia and Bahrain might be slowly moving towards a resolution.

 Twitter photo of  Abdel Fattah El Sisi on the campaign trail on March 30. Photo courtesy-Twitter/@SisiCampaign

El Sisi rides a bicycle, kicks off social media storm

The photos and video created a huge buzz across social media networks, possibly a marker of a new era for Egypt.

 An Afghan election commission worker carries a ballot box at a vote counting centre in Jalalabad on April 6. A roadside bomb hit a truck carrying full ballot boxes in northern Afghanistan, killing three people a day after the country voted for a successor to President Hamid Karzai. Eight boxes of votes were destroyed in the blast, which came as the three leading candidates voiced concerns about possible fraud. Noorullah Shirzada / AFP Photo

Two pressing questions for Afghanistan’s future president

Once in office, the next Afghan president must move fast to address important questions that will decide the immediate future of the country.

 Friday is UN Mine Awareness Day and Omer Hassan, who does demining work in Iraqi Kurdistan, is doing all he can to teach people about the dangers posed by landmines. Louise Redvers for The National

A landmine nearly ended Omer’s life but he now works to end the threat of mines in Iraq

Omer Hassan does demining work in Iraqi Kurdistan and only has to show people his mangled leg to underscore the danger of mines. With the world marking UN Mine Awareness Day on Friday, his work is as important as ever as Iraq is one of the most mine-affected countries in the world.

 Supporters of Turkey's ruling AKP cheer as they follow the election's results in front of the party's headquarters in Ankara on March 30. Adem Altan/ AFP Photo

Erdogan critic fears retaliation if he returns to Turkey

Emre Uslu is a staunch critic of Turkey's Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Now, with a mass crackdown on opposition expected, he is unsure when he can return home.

Events

To add your event to The National listings, click here

Get the most from The National