Police flood streets in bid to prevent new violence

ENGLISH police flooded the streets last night to ensure weekend drinking does not reignite the rioting that swept across London and other cities this week, shocking Britons and sullying the country’s image a year before it hosts the Olympics.

Steve Kavanagh, deputy assistant commissioner of the Metropolitan Police, said 16,000 officers, instead of the usual 2,500, would remain on duty in London in their biggest peacetime deployment — a measure of the perceived public-order challenge.

British prime minister David Cameron, describing the wild looting, arson and violence, in which five people were killed, as “criminality, pure and simple”, called the initial police response inadequate.

His remarks drew a sharp response from the police service, which is facing deep cuts in numbers as part of a sweeping government austerity drive.

“The fact that politicians chose to come back is an irrelevance in terms of the tactics that were by then developing,” said Hugh Orde, head of the Association of Chief Police Officers, referring to Cameron and other senior ministers who cut short their holidays after two days of mayhem at home.

In what it said revealed tough justice being meted out, The Guardian found that in a sample of more than 150 cases before magistrates’ courts, most defendants were remanded in custody, even when they pleaded guilty to relatively minor offences.

Britain could make it easier to evict people from government housing for rioting, a minister said yesterday, the latest move by a coalition desperate to show it is tough on crime.

“That may sound a little harsh, but I don’t think this is a time to pussyfoot around,” said communities minister Eric Pickles, adding that the measure would require legal changes.

“These people have done their best to make people frightened on the streets where they live. They’ve done their best to destroy neighbourhoods, and frankly I don’t feel terribly sympathetic toward them.”

The coalition is keen to regain the initiative after early criticism that it was slow to respond to the rioting which has overturned England’s image abroad as a generally orderly society.

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