Boy charged with London riot death

2011-08-16 08:54

London - A 16-year-old boy was to appear in court on Tuesday charged with the murder of a man during the London riots, a day after Prime Minister David Cameron launched his fightback against Britain's "moral collapse".

The teenager was charged over the death of Richard Bowes, aged 68, who was attacked during last week's unprecedented disorder in the capital and other major English cities which claimed five lives.

Cameron unveiled on Monday a sweeping review of government policy to reverse a "slow-motion moral collapse" that he blames for the unrest.

But his bid to set a new course after Britain's worst civil disorder for decades, which came just a year before London hosts the 2012 Olympics, failed to impress a teenage audience invited to hear his speech.

"This has been a wake-up call for our country. Social problems that have been festering for decades have exploded in our face," Cameron said at a youth club in his affluent rural constituency in Witney, southern England.

"Do we have the determination to confront the slow-motion moral collapse that has taken place in parts of our country these past few generations?" he asked, against a backdrop of colourful graffiti at the club.

Police flood streets

Children as young as 11-years-old joined the four-night frenzy of looting and arson which spread from London to other major cities including Manchester and Birmingham, leaving dozens of homes and businesses in flames.

The Conservative premier has flooded the streets with police while more than 2 300 suspects have been arrested, averting further unrest for now.

But Cameron said the "security fightback must be matched by a social fightback".

He said his centre-right coalition government - which came to power in May 2010 promising austerity measures to cut a record deficit - would in the coming weeks review "every aspect of our work to mend our broken society".

A day after he controversially hired US "supercop" Bill Bratton to advise on tackling street gangs, Cameron said there should be a "concerted, all-out war on gangs and gang culture".

Addressing calls for the reintroduction of military service, Cameron also said he wanted to extend National Citizen Service, a voluntary scheme for 16-year-olds that started this year with 11 000 people, throughout the country.

Living in la-la land

However the youths who listened to the speech at the club were unimpressed.

"What he said didn't help," said Jesse Day, aged 19.

"He went on about people with broken families, but I've never had a mum, really, or a dad, really, and though I've been in trouble in the past, I've not behaved like that," she added.

Jake Parkinson, aged 17, who asked a question of Cameron after his speech, said: "He should stop blaming it on everyone else, he should stop living in la-la land. If he was doing his job right, this wouldn't be happening."

Opposition Labour Party leader Ed Miliband - who gave a rival speech at his former school in London just as Cameron finished talking - accused the premier of proposing "knee-jerk gimmicks".

He blamed the riots on a crisis of values across society, linking them to the financial crisis and scandals over lawmakers' expenses and over phone hacking at media mogul Rupert Murdoch's News of the World newspaper.

1 635 arrested

Cameron faced criticism at the weekend from police chiefs who opposed his decision to hire Bratton, who is credited for tackling gang violence in New York, Los Angeles and Boston.

They have also called on the government to reverse its plans to slash police budgets.

Courts in England have been working through the night and, in a first, on Sunday, to clear the massive backlog of cases from the riots.

Three people appeared in court on Monday over the murder of three men who were hit by a car while defending their neighbourhood against looters in Birmingham, Britain's second city.

London police have now arrested 1 635 people in relation to the rioting and looting, 940 of whom have been charged, Scotland Yard said.

  • Matt :-) - 2011-08-16 08:57

    A 16-year-old... words fail me. RIP Mr Bowes.

  • African_meisie - 2011-08-16 09:17

    Good! He must be tried as an adult and serve his time!

  • ShakaN - 2011-08-16 09:25

    We can thank the liberal, do away with discipline and talk things through with a minor culture for the mess that we as a world are headed for.

      Kenko - 2011-08-16 09:34

      Spare the rod, spoil the child - an age-old saying. Now they get to relearn it the hard way.

  • Tieneke - 2011-08-16 09:36

    Isn't it funny that even after all of this those undisciplined brats blames Mr Cameron for not doing his job. WTF has Cameron got to do with how you behave? I blame their parents for the lack of discipline. Take away their welfare grants and housing. Hit them where it hurts the most. You behave you get rewarded, you miss behave we take you privileges away. Easy, cause its against the law to "moer" them.

  • Sisie - 2011-08-16 10:10

    Tried as an adult and sentenced accordingly.

  • ProfAndy - 2011-08-16 10:42

    Cameron should take the log out of his eye before trying to take the splinter out of the UK nation's... The "moral collapse" he talks about starts with him and his cronies...

      Big Al - 2011-08-16 12:19

      @DofAndy. So the "moral collapse" all started when he came into power about 2 years ago???? Idiot!

  • Dayat Atime - 2011-08-16 11:29

    Soylent Green

  • Vince York - 2011-08-16 11:33

    Britain has allowed itself to be raped and plundered from within its hearth & heart of existence for far too long, in bending and trying to be the magnanimous benefactor to even its very worst enemies and those that have no capacity for a life of quality. Are the British totally emasculated as Europe is appearing in the eyes of the world today, up against the short-term wealth of the Oil kings. They certainly did almost nothing to assist the progeny they left in Zimbabwe when at the time assistance was most importantly needed. The insurgent existence of masked and hooded imposters screeching from the top of minarets should be warning enough, let alone the howling from the mountain top crags of the Pakistani and Afghanistan mountains amidst fluttering rags.

  • OZNOB - 2011-08-16 16:32

    Now is the time to take the harder road no matter how daunting it looks.Bring back corporal punishment and national service. the dole should only be a temporay measure and those who misbehave lose their privileges - council houses etc. think how much money they will save by cutting back on those luxury items on the balanse sheet

      frankm - 2011-08-16 23:42

      Agreed, they should all have their arses whipped. Bunch of yobs

  • Pragmatist - 2011-08-16 16:47

    Public Hanging - like the old days... The world has gone soft!

  • slg - 2011-08-16 16:55

    "The ex-leader of one of London’s most feared street gangs said the riots were not the brainchild of gang leaders but, in many cases, the result of a build-up of frustration among young people growing up on grim housing estates with little hope. 'The fire’s there, secured in a room, locked away and then someone’s opened the door and it’s spread through the house,' Elijah Kerr, who transformed his gang into an organisation helping young people, told Reuters in an interview."

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