Firefighters spray water on building set ablaze during the Black youth-led rebellion in several cities across the country including London, Manchester, Britsol, Birmingham and other areas., a photo by Pan-African News Wire File Photos on Flickr.
Police, pollies in war of words over riots
August 13, 2011 - 1:59PM
British police and politicians were embroiled in a bitter war of words over the handling of the devastating riots that swept England.
Prime Minister David Cameron could be forced to play down tensions after senior officers hit back at criticism of their response to the crisis.
Cameron said officers had been overwhelmed at first, outmanoeuvred by mobile gangs of rioters. He said "far too few police were deployed onto the streets. And the tactics they were using weren't working."
Acting Metropolitan Police Commissioner Tim Godwin complained of negative comments from people who "weren't there" when the violence began - an apparent jibe at politicians, such as the prime minister, who were on holiday.
And Sir Hugh Orde, president of the Association of Chief Police Officers, dismissed the idea that ministers deserved credit for quelling the disturbances.
Thousands of extra police are patrolling urban streets this weekend.
Meanwhile, a man who was under armed guard in hospital after he was shot in the street has died of his injuries, becoming the sixth fatal victim of the riots.
Gavin Clarke, 34, had been under protection with serious facial injuries after the incident in the Chapeltown area of riot-hit Leeds on Monday.
Six men were arrested in connection with the shooting.
The differences emerged with police across the country still on high alert despite relative calm over the past couple of days.
The "surge" on the streets of London is expected to be maintained until at least next week.
Courts are working through the weekend to clear a huge backlog of cases involving those suspected of looting and other offences. Some 1,600 people have now been arrested, with around 800 already having appeared before magistrates.
According to government figures, two-thirds of those charged have been remanded into custody rather than bailed while they wait for cases to be heard.
Only 122 of the individuals who have gone to court so far are under 18 - despite speculation that children were behind much of the trouble.
In other developments, a 22-year-old man was arrested over the murder of pensioner Richard Mannington Bowes, who was attacked as he tried to stamp out a fire in Ealing on Monday.
Bowes, 68, became the fifth victim of the riots when he died in hospital just before midnight on Thursday.
Wandsworth Council became the first local authority to serve an eviction notice on a tenant, whose son has been charged in connection with riots. Cameron has indicated his support for such moves.
An inquest into the deaths of three men in Birmingham who were run down by a car while guarding shops from looters was told that police are seeking further suspects, having already arrested four people.
The hearing into the deaths of Haroon Jahan and brothers Shazad Ali and Abdul Musavir, was adjourned with coroner Aidan Cotter ordering that their bodies should be released for burial next Wednesday.
Meanwhile, a poll carried out in the aftermath of the riots suggested the public is not happy with their leaders' performance during the crisis.
The survey by YouGov for Channel 4 News found that 84 per cent believed the police had not been "tough enough" and 71 per cent thought politicians had handled the crisis badly.
Reassuringly for Cameron, though, it seems blame for the unrest is not being pinned on Government austerity policies.
More than a fifth (21 per cent) said it was purely criminal behaviour and another 13 per cent pointed the finger at gang culture, while only 7 per cent cited social inequality and 5 per cent cuts.
An online ComRes poll of 2,008 adults for The Independent showed strong backing for the reversal of coalition cuts to police budgets - 71 per cent - and for automatic jail sentences for even the most minor of riot-related offences (78 per cent).