Prince Charles visits riot-hit community

2011-08-17 15:45
London - Prince Charles and his wife Camilla visited Tottenham on Wednesday, meeting families and businesses in the deprived borough of north London who suffered as a result of rioting last week.

"Welcome to Tottenham," said a resident as the prince arrived at the local leisure centre, which has been turned into an aid centre for those who lost their homes during burning and looting on August 6.

Violence broke out in the multi-ethnic neighbourhood in north London following the police shooting of a local man, Mark Duggan, two days earlier.

The rioting and arson attacks destroyed many shops and flats on the main road and left up to 200 people homeless.

Over the next three days copycat violence spread, first to other parts of London and then to other major cities such as Manchester and Birmingham, in the worst civil unrest seen in England for decades.

Charles and Camilla broke off their summer holiday in Scotland to make the visit, and after being greeted by local schoolchildren, they were due to meet with families and emergency services.

Don't let them get away

Meanwhile the Associated Press reported on Wednesday that the London police force said 1 000 people have now been charged in the unrest that rocked the capital for four days.

Acting chief Tim Godwin issued a statement on Wednesday that said while the milestone is significant, the investigation is ongoing. He urged the public to turn in anyone involved in the disorder.

"Don't let them get away with it," he said.

UK police have arrested more than 3 000 people over riots that erupted on August 6 in north London and flared for four nights across the capital and other English cities.

The huge numbers and public anger has sparked concerns that judges were handing out sentences that were disproportionate. Some of the concerns centred around two men in northwestern England, who were handed stiff jail terms for inciting disorder through social networking sites.

Cheshire Police said Jordan Blackshaw, aged 20, and Perry Sutcliffe-Keenan, aged 22, both received 4-year sentences for using Facebook to "organise and orchestrate" disorder.

Panic

Blackshaw used the social networking site to create an event - with a date, time and location - for "massive Northwich lootin'".

Sutcliffe created a page on Facebook called "Warrington Riots" which listed a time and date for anyone who wished to be involved in a riot. The riots discussed never occurred.

The Crown Prosecution Service defended the sentences, saying the web pages caused panic and revulsion to the people of Cheshire.

Most of the convicted suspects have been sent for sentencing to higher courts, which have the power to impose longer terms of imprisonment. Two-thirds of the accused have not been granted bail.

Some of the harsher sentences are expected to be appealed.

"It will be a further drag on the court system, which is already struggling - and that's before considering the pressures on the prison system," said Andrew Neilson of the Howard League for Penal Reform.

Prime Minister David Cameron has said those who participated in the riots should go to prison, but the government has insisted it is not trying to influence the judiciary.

Read more on:    prince charles  |  mark duggan  |  uk  |  uk riots
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