Latest Public Sector News

09.08.11

Ministers fly home to deal with riots

Prime Minister David Cameron has flown home early from his holiday in Italy to deal with the escalating riot crisis. Cameron will chair an emergency ‘Cobra’ meeting in Downing Street on Tuesday morning to discuss the disturbances and bring in measures to contain the rioting.

Buildings have been set alight and looting is rife as the riots spread from London to other major cities, including Birmingham, Liverpool and Bristol. The violence began on Saturday night in Tottenham after a local man was shot by police.

Asked why the PM had now decided to return from his holiday, after earlier saying he would not, a Downing Street source told reporters: "The situation has become more serious." Other ministers returning or already back from holidays include Labour leader Ed Miliband and Home Secretary Theresa May.

May insisted that the criminal behaviour was not due to the Government’s cuts, and reiterated that it was possible for cuts to be made to the police without affecting front line services.

She told the BBC: "Of course there are other issues that we need to look at, such as what powers the police have, what resources they have, but we must not lose sight of the fact that this is not a question just about policing it's about individuals, often young people... actually going out on our streets, looting, thieving, committing violence. This is criminal activity."

Miliband called the situation "disgraceful criminal behaviour".

"It is right that the prime minister is chairing Cobra. We need a co-ordinated response to ensure public safety and help those people who have lost homes and businesses,” he said.

Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg arrived back at Downing Street on Monday, and commented: “We need to start talking together to identify everything that happened so we can rebuild, not just physically but socially. I should stress I don't regard this as a fleeting visit.

“I think the Government has to engage actively at all levels and on an ongoing basis because clearly this is something that leaves big scars and we need to work together to start to heal those scars."

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