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England Riots News Update: 15/8/2011

The Police and the Government have been the focus of the media recently for their handling of the Riots of 2011 and also their bantering over who took the decisions that helped to stop the riots.

Mayor of London Boris Johnson and Home Secretary Theresa May in Clapham on Tuesday

Theresa May came under criticism by the police for saying she took the decisions of what the police should be doing on the streets at the time of the riots – such as the implementation of a 16,000 strong Police presence on the streets of London; the police countered this saying it was their decision to make and they were the ones who made the decisions.

The police have also come under criticism as their actions initially were not up to scratch with dealing with the riots and were seen as too soft. They were also criticised for handling the situation as a public disorder one, rather than one of criminality; as a result shops and businesses were left ransacked and on fire.

Civil liberties and Human Rights campaigner Liberty’s director of policy, Isabella Sankey said: “A country can be judged by how it responds to a crisis,” asserted Sankey. “Riots across England have filled our TV screens with terrible images of violence and criminality, and damaged communities have rightly demanded answers about the strategy of the authorities.”

David Cameron said that the police got their tactics wrong he went on to say “Police chiefs have been frank with me about why this happened. Initially, the police treated the situation too much as a public order issue – rather than essentially one of crime”.

The Prime-minister has also spoke of the police today, he said “Nothing in this job is more important to me than keeping people safe. It is obvious to me that to do that we’ve got to be tough, we’ve got to be robust…That starts with a stronger police presence – pounding the beat, deterring crime, ready to re-group and crack down at the first sign of trouble.”

Mr Cameron is also to bring in a top-cop from the US Mr Bill Bratton who has dealt with policing gang-culture in his time as chief police officer for New York, in an effort to stop future rioting.

It hasn’t only been Mr Cameron who has been making speeches so too has – Ed Miliband and Mr Miliband has spoke again of holding an inquiry from the communities involved in the riots, in a speech today he said, – “I urge the Prime Minister to establish this commission of inquiry without delay. If he does not do it, in the coming days I will.”

The question this week that everyone is trying to find an answer to is why these riots took place – and why they took place on such a large scale. Social media such as Facebook and Twitter were identified as the culprits, for the way these riots were organised as well as Blackberry’s.

A Blackberry spokesman said: “We feel for those impacted by the riots in London. We have engaged with the authorities to assist in any way we can”.

At the time of the riots David Lammy MP for Tottenham had voiced his concerns and had called for BlackBerry’s messenger service to be suspended.

David Cameron and Theresa May have recently been calling for powers to block suspected rioters from using BlackBerry, Facebook, and Twitter. Theresa May is to meet with RiM (Research in Motion) who produce Blackberry’s, she is also to meet with Twitter and Facebook in a meeting where the riots and the use of social media are to be discussed along with the idea of blocking access in times of crisis. Blackberry holds 37% of the mobile teenage market.

This week also saw the BBC’s Newsnight on the front page of the Guardian as well as being the discussion of many news-agencies, as one of the programmes guests David Starkey was controversially putting the riots down to Black Jamaican ‘patois’ culture. Mr Miliband has condemned Mr Starkey for his comments.

As for the IPCC – they have said they initially provided wrong information to the media about the exchange of shots by Mark Duggan – who is now said to have not used his gun although forensics are still investigating whether the gun found on the scene was fired or not – the gun was said to be hidden within a sock.

The number of phone calls the police received were over 20,000 on the worst night of rioting.

The number of arrests so far are are more than 1600.

The Mayor Boris Johnson has criticised the government’s plans to make cuts to the police, as have the Labour Party. This is an issue that will be looked at closely by the media in the coming weeks.

Liberty’s Director Shami Chakrabarthy has said: “It’s clear that this completely destructive lawlessness has no rational connection with the shooting in Tottenham. Nonetheless, it’s vital that the IPCC undertakes a speedy and thorough investigation into the death [of Mark Duggan]. This wanton violent disorder serves only to distract from that vital inquiry.”

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