UK PM in zero tolerance row

2011-08-14 20:27

London - British Prime Minister David Cameron pledged Sunday a "zero tolerance" crackdown after recent urban riots, fuelling a row over plans for the US "supercop" behind the strategy to advise the government.

Police chiefs in Britain criticised Cameron's decision to hire ex-New York police supremo Bill Bratton to help 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 Conservative premier accused some people of over-complicating explanations for simple criminality but admitted that underlying social factors including "deeply broken and troubled families" had to be addressed.

"They were nicking televisions because they wanted a television and they weren't prepared to save up and get it like normal people. The complicated bit is why are there so many, why is there this sizeable minority of people who are prepared to do this?" he said.

In a phone call with Cameron, US President Barack Obama commended the "steadiness" shown by politicians and the police in their handling of the riots, Downing Street said.

But Bratton himself said zero tolerance is "a phrase I hate", listing instead a raft of measures including understanding how gangs work, using injunctions to curb their activities, and getting former members to help intervene.

Not achievable

"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, credited for tackling gang violence in New York, Los Angeles and Boston, wrote in the Mail on Sunday newspaper.

He is due to come to Britain later this year.

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

Hugh Orde, the head of the British police chiefs' body and a leading candidate to take over as head of London's Metropolitan Police after the previous leader was felled by a phone-hacking scandal, criticised the move to bring in Bratton.

"I am not sure I want to learn about gangs from an area of America that has 400 of them. It seems to me, if you've got 400 gangs, then you're not being very effective," Orde told The Independent on Sunday newspaper.

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

More than 2 140 people have now been arrested in connection with the riots, of whom around 1 000 have been charged. Godwin said he expected around 3 000 people to face the courts over the riots.

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

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

Cops part of rally

Joshua Donald, 26, and a 17-year-old male 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.

Thousands of people were expected to attended a peace rally in Birmingham in Britain's industrial midlands later on Sunday.

West Midlands police chief Chris Sims said he had been invited to address the meeting, saying it showed that policing was seen as "part of the solution" not part of the problem" in the area.

He added that it "feels a million miles from the debates apparently raging in Westminster".

That debate shows no sign of letting up.

An Angus Reid poll in the Sunday Express newspaper found that 72% supported the reintroduction of compulsory national service for 18-year-olds, while 70% backed stopping welfare handouts for the parents of rioters.

  • RFreeThinker - 2011-08-14 21:45

    By zero tolerance he means water cannon. On a hot summer night, water cannon is refreshing.

      Matt :-) - 2011-08-15 08:28

      It's summer, maybe the water cannon will get cancelled due to water restrictions ;-)

  • Maria Gornell - 2011-08-15 06:02

    If cameron is not careful it won't just be kids on the streets rioting but the majority of UK, this tory government have got to go.

      Matt :-) - 2011-08-15 08:26

      In keeping with normal UK policy, at least let the Tories fix some things before Labour gets to destroy the place further

      Brigitte - 2011-08-15 09:12

      @Maria - successive Labour goveernments and Labour led councils effectively banned corporal punishment in schools, banned parents from disciplining their kids, banned teaching the 10 commandments in schools, made it just about impossible for schools to expel unruly pupils, did nothing about rampant truantism in inner city schools, violence against teachers and authority figures, made it attractive to have kids at 16 so as to get your own flat or house, made it even more attractive to have 7 kids or more with many different partners to get 2 or three council houses and so on and so on. The Conservative Party have to be given time to try to sort out the mess made by the 'looney left'. When we were at school we learnt 4 r's - reading, writing, arithmetic and respect!

      Matt :-) - 2011-08-15 09:27

      @ Brigitte - agreed! Glad to see some sense on here :-) My word, how things change... as a child in the 80s we were smacked - it kept us in line. Today in schools, I've heard from colleagues when I was still in the UK that kids are having relations DURING CLASS, and discipling is zero. It's quite something that South African teachers go to the UK to teach (because the locals don't want to do it anymore, but this was happening in the 80s already) and they flee back in horror because they can't handle the UK kids, and they can't discipline them either. When I was young - and hey I'm only 31 - boys were suspended for having long hair, expelled for smoking - today children in UK schools can do whatever they want! I've heard of children getting kicked out of class, sent to the headmaster, and they walk back into class with biscuits! When I was young, if 2 boys kissed (4-5 years old) they'd get hauled in and told that this is wrong - today 5-year-olds are about to be taught about @n@l (new policies they'er discussing). And you're right about truancy - my one work colleague in Essex bunked class for an entire year! He'd walk in the high street, his teachers would see him, stop him, say Hi and walk on. My other colleague there was 18, had a child (to be fair, he took responsibility) and couldn't read! And Brigitte - they set a new record the other week - one man, 15 children by 13 women... Yet people in SA will STILL move to the UK, thinking the streets are paved with gold!

      Matt :-) - 2011-08-15 09:48

      @ Brigitte - if you fancy... There's so much I could write about the UK... OK, how about why places like Bristol are full of Somalians? This is the trend, as confirmed to me by a social worker from the Bristol City Council: 1) Fly to the UK, get off Heathrow, demand "give us a house" and when they're told NO, "we know our rights, give us a house" - they get a house. 2) Failing this, they go to Holland as that country has a very generous policy towards refugees. They live there, don't work, get everything paid for. After 5 years there, they get a Dutch passport - and as a result are no longer refugees, but citizens, and therefore must WORK for their money. So what they do, the second they have Dutch passports, they fly to England, where as EU Citizens they're entitled to residency and full benefits, including housing. And with the UK being overly generous towards the unemployed, they can keep on living in European safety while doing sweet FA... (irony is that if a Brit goes to an EU country, they are NOT entitled to residency, they have to find a job first and only then are entitled to residency + any benefits if applicable)

  • Matt :-) - 2011-08-15 08:27

    Zero Tolerance - I get irritated when I hear that said. Usually it means "do little or nothing" (not UK-specific)

      Brigitte - 2011-08-15 13:09

      Hi Matt - Can't open the link - sorry Are you now being accused of looking at 'old England' through rose coloured spectacles? the EU ws the worst thing we could have joined - they make all the rules and have made the 'rights' of the illegals, criminals etc more important than the rights of the innocent population and the victims. What did my Dad fight for?

      Matt :-) - 2011-08-15 13:27

      Hi... that's so you could find me on FB :-) I agree - my granddad is so upset that he fought for his country, for the freedom of all - and look at what's become of everything! But to Maria's delight no doubt, the EU is the Tories' fault. Remember Ted Heath promised the voters before the referendum that the Common Market was only about relaxed import duties, then admitted afterwards that he lied to secure the vote? As for soft treatment of criminals, well there's a bigger plan - check the Communist Manifesto, there are 10 requirements for creating a communist state - check how many of those requirements UK, and most Western democracies, actually meet...

  • letsee - 2011-08-15 09:17

    So far the suggestions have been ridiculous. Stopping subsidies to parents and other idiotic suggestions create misery that is not wanted. There are stone age remedies, not allowed by the modern society, that fix frustrated kids.

      Matt :-) - 2011-08-15 09:30

      I wouldn't call them stone age... My way of fixing the UK is kept to just four words... God, Conscription, Death Penalty. But these are very politically incorrect words, so watch the UK Government build a few social clubs, skateboard ramps and assume the problem will be fixed. No it won't...

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