David Cameron has pledged to do “whatever it takes” to restore order to the streets after four nights of extensive rioting in major English cities.
Addressing a recalled House of Commons, the Prime Minister said anyone convicted of rioting should go to jail. He said the Government was looking at the option of introducing new sentencing powers and promised that reinforced police numbers would remain on the streets of London over the weekend.
“We will not put up with this in our country. We will not allow a culture of fear to exist on our streets and we will do whatever it takes to restore law and order and to rebuild our communities,” he said.
Mr Cameron announced that police would be given new powers to demand suspected criminals remove facemasks while ministers were also looking at whether any wider powers of curfew were necessary.
He said they were also looking with the police, the intelligence services and industry at whether it was possible to stop people plotting disorder through social media websites.
Mr Cameron said that while he did not want to break away from the traditional “British model” of policing by putting troops on the streets, he said ministers were looking at whether the Army could take on some police tasks to free up more officers for the frontline.
“Nothing should be off the table. Every contingency is being looked at,” he said.
Mr Cameron’s comments came as the Metropolitan Police said it has now arrested a total of 922 people in connection with violence, disorder and looting. A spokesman said 401 people have been charged.
The Prime Minister also announced new measures to tackle gang culture – including extending the system of gang injunctions across the country, covering both adults and children. He also confirmed that police had the authority to deploy baton rounds against rioters and he urged local councils to use their powers to evict the perpetrators of the violence from social housing.
Meanwhile, Premier League chief executive Richard Scudamore announced that Tottenham’s season-opening clash with Everton on Saturday has been postponed due to the riots. He said: “The very latest situation is that Tottenham and Everton has gone. The police have done a fantastic job, but it’s been a crime scene all week and the council have not had enough time to do what they need. The other nine fixtures are looking positive, subject to any more trouble.”
By The Press Association