Cameron vows to fix 'broken society'

2011-08-15 09:08

London - British Prime Minister David Cameron was on Monday to confront the "moral collapse" he blames for last week's riots after fuelling a row with police over plans for a US "supercop" to help tackle street gang violence.

Police chiefs criticised Cameron's decision to hire ex-New York police supremo Bill Bratton in a bid to prevent a repeat of the violence in which five people died, saying a home-grown policy would be better.

"We haven't talked the language of zero tolerance enough, but the message is getting through," Cameron told The Sunday Telegraph newspaper.

A four-day frenzy of looting and arson in London and other major English cities has sparked a nationwide debate on the causes and possible responses, with just a year to go until the capital hosts the 2012 Olympics.

The prime minister was to promise in a speech to be delivered on Monday that he "would not be found wanting" in his mission to "mend our broken society".

"This has been a wake-up call for our country," Cameron was to declare.

Tough action

"We know what's gone wrong: The question is... 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 was to ask.

The Conservative party leader, a transcript of whose remarks was released in advance, was to blame "irresponsibility, selfishness, children without fathers, schools without discipline, reward without effort and rights without responsibilities" for the unprecedented disorder.

Interior minister Theresa May backed Cameron, saying the public wanted "tough action".

Bratton himself, however, said zero tolerance is "a phrase I hate".

"I would not advocate attempting zero tolerance in any country. It's not achievable. It implies you can eliminate a problem and that's not reality," Bratton wrote in the Mail on Sunday newspaper.

Instead the police expert, who is credited for tackling gang violence in New York, Los Angeles and Boston, listed a raft of measures including understanding how gangs work and using injunctions to curb their activities.


Britain's top policemen - already angered by government plans to cut their budgets amid wider austerity measures and by Cameron accusing them of being slow to react to the riots - were in no mood for lectures.

"I am not sure I want to learn about gangs from an area of America that has 400 of them," Hugh Orde, the head of the British police chiefs' body, told The Independent on Sunday newspaper.

Acting Metropolitan Police chief Tim Godwin also weighed in, accusing the government of "inconsistency" over how tough the police were expected to be following allegations of heavy-handedness in the G20 protests in 2009.

He said commanders would decide on Monday whether to scale down the surge of officers on London's streets, currently at 16 000.

More than 2 140 people have now been arrested in connection with the riots, and around 1 000 have been charged.

The first people to be charged over some of the deaths in the riots appeared in court on Sunday.

Moment of silence

Joshua Donald, aged 26, and a 17-year-old boy who cannot be named, appeared at Birmingham Magistrates' Court charged with the murder of three men hit by a car while defending their neighbourhood against looters in Britain's second city.

Adam King, aged 23, was also charged over the incident later on Sunday.

More than 1 500 people observed a minute's silence at a peace rally in Birmingham in Britain's industrial midlands on Sunday, police said.

Addressing the rally, Tariq Jahan, father of victim Haroon Jahan, said that the display of unity gave him "strength in my heart".

Jahan,aged  46, emerged as a hero after calling for calm in the immediate aftermath of the tragedy, preventing revenge attacks.

"To me it's the month of Ramadan, as a Muslim I believe that this is a very special month," he said.

"For us Muslims we believe the gates of heaven are open and the gates of hell are shut this month, so that gives me the strength to believe that the three boys did not die in vain, they died for this community and I hope that this community will remember them," added the bereaved father.

A 16-year-old boy was also arrested on Sunday on suspicion of the murder of Richard Bowes, aged 68, who was attacked as he tried to put out a fire in the West London borough of Ealing.

  • Matt :-) - 2011-08-15 09:19

    Four words will fix the UK's moral collapse... God - Conscription - Death Penalty Alas, these four words are politically incorrect, so what will they do - build a few more skateboard ramps and youth clubs? PM David Cameron, you'd have just as much success with fixing the society as if you were using Bostik...

  • Bwcb - 2011-08-15 10:19

    It is refreshing to see that the blame for this are placed correctly. The breakdown of the British society has been long coming with the slow eradication of family values. British children are never taught to respect themselves, their community or their family and basically allowed to carry on as they please. This and the fact that children are raised to become perfect little consumers can be clearly seen in the fact that the shops that were mostly looted was shop specializing in upmarket consumer goods such as I-pod and designer shoes. How low does a society have to go when not being able to afford the newest I-pad or the most expensive shoes give one the right to protest and loot. Respect and discipline in the family unit is one of the most important fundamentals of any society and until that can be installed in the new generation the problem are set to continue. Another point is that Britain as a country still have not accepted the responsibility for their crimes committed against humanity during their colonization of other countries. If your government are not willing to accept blame and apologize for their own short comings how can you expect the people of that country to trust and respect their own government ad its agencies?

      Matt :-) - 2011-08-15 10:27

      "Britain as a country still have not accepted the responsibility for their crimes committed against humanity during their colonization of other countries" You'd be surprised hey. They've taken history out of school, the idea being that if kids are interested enough, they can use Google and Wikipedia (dangerous policy!!!). In the UK, the views have changed - in the past wer were taught to be proud of our history, and in most cases rightly so. But Labour have twisted teaching so that anything the UK ever did was an act of shame. You'll see how it's now almost illegal to be proudly British (especially English) in the UK. Try flying a St George and see what happens. But then, in cases of genuine crimes against humanity, they are hidden. Especially the Boer War. Most Brits don't even know it happened; those who do believe it was "just another" colonial victory. You have to excuse the Brits, who are barely taught about something like the Boer War, for not understanding the disgusting acts the UK committed against Afrikaners. You have to excuse them for having no knowledge of the very racist creation of Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland, which was overseen by QE2 herself. Yet, when there are such clear cases of UK atrocities, the UK is eerily silent. You'll see every time a Japanese rep comes to the UK, people shout for an apology for WW2 - yet don't understand why Afrikaners demanded the same when QE2 visited SA quite a while back...

  • letsee - 2011-08-15 10:34

    It is obvious that Cameron and all his fellows are at a loss.

      Matt :-) - 2011-08-15 10:40

      But who would do a better job? Labour is mostly resopnsible for the mess in the first place; Conservatives are in power but at the mercy of a coalition, but to be frank have lost their zest; Liberals, well they haven't been in power for 100+ years for good reasons...

  • beicime - 2011-08-15 14:29

    Some cultures build more schools to overcome poor education and other cultures burn down schools to protest against poor education. This is the difference in cultures that police and psychologists miss and therefore the British will fail to resolve multi-cultural grievances.

  • RAYSEMBE - 2011-08-15 16:32

    oooooH lets hope he fixes all the broken bones.

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