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Updated: August 14, 2011 19:00 IST

Cameron promises ‘zero tolerance’ as answer to turmoil

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A speaker holds a banner at a peaceful demonstration in Tottenham in London on Saturday.
A speaker holds a banner at a peaceful demonstration in Tottenham in London on Saturday.

British Prime Minister David Cameron promised tough measures to target gangs and looters, vowing to unleash a “zero tolerance” crackdown against them, as courts in several cities were flooded with cases of alleged rioters, many of them children.

As England recovers from one of its worst street riots in decades that have claimed five lives, Mr. Cameron said a series of strong measures will be unveiled in the coming months to fight crime and rein in rioters, looters and gangs.

The Prime Minister, who has already roped in former New York police commissioner, ‘supercop’ Bill Bratton, to advise his agencies on how to tackle gang culture, also pledged to support “zero tolerance” policing.

“We haven’t talked the language of zero tolerance enough but the message is getting through,” Mr. Cameron said in an interview to the Sunday Telegraph.

“If you leave the broken window, the shop gets looted again,” he said.

In a major speech in the coming days, Mr. Cameron will spell out the details of his strategy aimed at ensuring that rioters and looters are not allowed a free run on the streets as was witnessed recently in several cities of the country.

The Prime Minister, who has repeatedly said over the week that the riots were more a consequence of moral and social breakdown than any political reason, again said there was no need to seek complicated answers to the recent turmoil.

“I think there is a danger sometimes of people seeking very, very complicated answers when there are quite simple (explanations)... these people who were nicking televisions were not complaining about the reform of the education maintenance allowance or tuition fees.

“They were nicking televisions because they wanted a television and they weren’t prepared to save up and get it like normal people,” Mr. Cameron said.

Over 1200 people have been arrested so far for their alleged roles in the five-day violence that shook the country, and the Acting Metropolitan Police Commissioner estimated the number would go to around 3,000 in London.

Among those who were being hauled up before courts was 20-year-old Reece Donovan, accused of robbing injured Malaysian student Ashraf Rossli.

Also set to appear before court are 26-year-old Joshua Donald, and a 17-year-old boy, charged with the murder of three British Asians, who were run over by a car while standing guard to protect their neighbourhood from rioters in Birmingham.

Haroon Jahan, 20, Shazad Ali, 30, and his brother Abdul Musavir, 31, were killed on Wednesday.

As many as one-fifth of the suspects nabbed by police in connection with the riots and lootings are under 18 years of age.

Mr. Cameron also said his government would give more attention to help “strengthen families” -- given the fact that there are 100,000 “deeply broken and troubled” families in Britain.

However, he ruled out any climb-down over plans to cut police budgets, despite coming under fire over the issue both from Labour and his own party, including Boris Johnson, the mayor of London, the Telegraph said.

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