London: As riot-hit cities of England limped
back to normalcy, British Premier David Cameron on Thursday
announced a slew of measures to bring back complete order on
the streets, promising new powers to police and strong state
support to help victims recover losses incurred in the mayhem.
Making a statement during an emergency recall of the
parliament, the Prime Minister admitted there were "far too
few" police on the streets and that their tactics had
initially not worked, but added this was a new and unique
challenge for them.
Over 1,200 persons have been arrested so far in connection
with the violence of over the past five days, during which
hooded youth and gangsters ran amok, ransacking stores,
vandalising cars and robbing whatever came their way.
Describing the violence as not a matter of politics or
protest but "theft", Cameron said police and intelligence
agencies were scurrying through CCTV footage to track down all
those responsible for the lootings and arson.
"The government will ensure the police have the funds they
need to meet the cost of any legitimate claims... The
Association of British Insurers have said they expect the
industry to be paying out in excess of 200 million pounds,"
Cameron told lawmakers.
He said police will now be authorised to order people to
remove facemasks and their powers to impose curfew will be
"So I can announce today that we are going to give the
police the discretion to remove face coverings under any
circumstances where there is reasonable suspicion that they
are related to criminal activity," he said.
Cameron again said that water cannons will be made
available to police at a 24-hour notice to deal with such
Outlining the measures to compensate people and companies
who were targeted during the riots, Cameron said that any
individual, homeowner or business that suffered damage to or
loss of their buildings or property as a result of rioting,
could seek compensation under the Riot Damages Act, even if
"On supporting businesses, we are today setting up a new
20 million pounds high street support scheme to help affected
businesses get back up and running quickly," he said.
Cameron admitted that police presence was too less on the
streets when the incidents broke out, and said police had
initially tried to tackle the situation as a law and order
problem, which it was not, it was a criminal issue.
"There were simply far too few police were deployed on to
our streets and the tactics they were using weren`t working,"
he told MPs.
"Initially the police treated the situation too much as a
public order issue - rather than essentially one of crime.
"The truth is that the police have been facing a new and
unique challenge with different people doing the same thing -
basically looting - in different places all at the same time,"
The Prime Minister also said that law enforcement would
see that punishment is imposed on those responsible for
sullying the image of the country.
He also paid tributes to the calls for peace made by Tariq
Jahan, whose son was among three young British Asians mowed
down in Birmingham.
He said: "(Everyone) will have been impressed by the brave
words of Tariq Jahan, a father in Birmingham whose son was so
brutally and tragically run over and killed".
Ed Miliband, leader of the opposition, called Jahan the
`true face of Britain`.
Touching on deeper issues involved in the rioting, Cameron
said the street gangs were mostly comprised of young boys
mainly from dysfunctional homes, and evidence suggests they
were behind coordinating the riots.
He also said there was a strong need to address the moral
lapse and `broken` society.
"I have said before that there is a major problem in our
society with children growing up not knowing the difference
between right and wrong. This is not about poverty, it`s about
culture. A culture that glorifies violence, shows disrespect
to authority, and says everything about rights but nothing
In too many cases, he said, the parents of these children
"if they are still around" did not care where their
children were or who they were with.
"The potential consequences of neglect and immorality on
this scale have been clear for too long, without enough action
being taken," he said.
Noting that the world had been watching the events in
Britain, 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".
He added: "We need to show them that we will address our
broken society, we will restore a sense of stronger sense of
morality and responsibility in every town, in every street
and in every estate.
A year away from the Olympics, Cameron said the country
all the more needs to show the world 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".