My position on the recent riots

August 16, 2011 12:17 PM

Many people have been contacting me about the recent riots. I thought you might be interested in my position on this critical matter.

I shall start by stating that we will do everything necessary to restore order to Britain's streets and to make them safe for law-abiding citizens.

Since the violence broke out, British police officers have put themselves in harm's way to protect residents around the country and their property. Those responsible for the violence and looting will be made to face the consequences of their actions: more than 1300 people have been arrested and further arrests will be made.

Many families have been put in danger because of the mindless actions of a minority. The people who participated in these riots evidently feel that they have nothing to fear, and nothing to lose. We must prove them wrong on both counts. Families have lost their homes and people have been left frightened in their own neighbourhoods. I stand side-by-side with the people in those communities who utterly condemn the violence, theft and vandalism.

It is becoming increasingly clear that the Police initially treated the situation as a public order issue rather than one of criminal activity. I understand that, in the past, the Metropolitan Police have focused on containing public disorder, filming those involved in criminal activity and arresting them after the event. I am pleased that more robust measures appear to have returned order to our streets.

Sir Hugh Orde, President of the Association of Chief Police Officers, who has previously deployed both water cannons and baton rounds, has argued that such measures would not have been appropriate in response to these riots as they are only appropriate when used against largely static crowds. Nonetheless, such options remain open to the Police should they decide to deploy them. I agree with Sir Hugh's view that the British model, 'based on consent, with police largely unarmed, and built up from the grass roots of neighbourhood policing - will prevail'.

The Prime Minister recently outlined to Parliament the following actions the Government has taken or will be taking.

Whilst there is no excuse for the criminality that we have witnessed on London's streets, we cannot ignore the social context in which they occurred. We need to root out the aggressive attitude displayed by some of our young people. Parents must ask their children some difficult questions. Schools must fight harder to tackle aggression amongst their students. Politicians must continue to work at engaging young people in their communities. Evidently these rioters feel they have no stake in society, and this has to change. We now need to reflect on the reasons why a small minority acted in the way they did and how we can take the long term action to ensure this never happens again.

I commend local people across the nation who have pulled together to fight aggression with an inspiring community spirit. Campaigns to clean up our streets really illustrate the kind of community spirit we want to show the world particularly in the lead up to the London Olympics.

These past days have been extremely depressing. They have done enormous damage to our international reputation. They have left families in mourning and businesses damaged. They have rocked our fundamental freedoms to their foundations. We have started the fight back. It will be a long campaign, but it is one that we cannot afford to lose.

What would you like to do next?