Cameron pledges to do 'whatever it takes' to quell riots

British Prime Minister David Cameron promised tough action today against those behind the rioting which has scarred cities across England.

British Prime Minister David Cameron promised tough action today against those behind the rioting which has scarred cities across England.

Police will be given greater powers to ban face-coverings and efforts will be stepped up to tackle the gangs blamed for instigating the violence.

Cameron, making an emergency statement to the Commons, announced a package of support for homeowners and businesses who have seen their properties destroyed in the carnage.

He told MPs: "The whole country has been shocked by the most appalling scenes of people looting, violence, vandalising and thieving.

"It is criminality pure and simple and there is absolutely no excuse for it.

"We have seen houses, offices and shops raided and torched, police officers assaulted and fire crews attacked as they try to put out fires, people robbing others while they lie injured and bleeding in the street, and even three innocent people being deliberately run over and killed in Birmingham.

"We will not put up with this in our country. We will not allow a culture of fear to exist on our streets."

MPs interrupted their summer break to return to Westminster as Parliament was recalled to debate the crisis.

There was standing room only on the Conservative side of the House as Tory MPs heard Mr Cameron promise those affected by the disturbances: "We will help you repair the damage, get your businesses back up and running, and support your communities."

Many of the outbreaks of disorder were believed to have been co-ordinated using the internet and mobile phones.

Mr Cameron said that steps were being considered to ban those suspected of planning criminal acts from using social media.

He said: "We are working with the police, the intelligence services and industry to look at whether it would be right to stop people communicating via these websites and services when we know they are plotting violence, disorder and criminality."

Mr Cameron said he would change powers which meant police could currently only require the removal of facemasks "in a specific geographical location and for a limited time".

He told MPs: "We are going to give the police the discretion to remove face coverings under any circumstances where there is reasonable suspicion that they are related to criminal activity."

He also said the Government was examining the use of dispersal powers and considering "whether any wider power of curfew is necessary".

The Prime Minister said the "fightback has well and truly begun", and added: "We will not stop until this mindless violence and thuggery is defeated and law and order is fully restored on all our streets."

Mr Cameron said there was evidence that criminal gangs were behind some of the violence.

"They have blighted life on their estates with gang-on-gang murders and unprovoked attacks on innocent bystanders.

"In the last few days there is some evidence that they have been behind the co-ordination of the attacks on the police and the looting that has followed.

"I want us to use the record of success against gangs some cities like Boston in the USA and indeed from the Strathclyde Police in Scotland - who have done this by engaging the police, the voluntary sector and local government. I want this to be a national priority.

"We have already introduced gang injunctions and I can announce today that we are going to use them across the whole country for children and for adults."

A cross-government action plan to tackle gangs will report to Parliament in October, Mr Cameron said.

He added: "I also believe we should be looking beyond our shores to learn lessons from others who have faced similar problems.

"That is why I will be discussing how we can go further in getting to grips with gangs with people like Bill Bratton, former Commissioner of Police in New York and Los Angeles."

Local authorities and landlords already have tough powers to evict perpetrators from social housing, Mr Cameron said.

"Some local authorities are already doing this. I want to see others follow their lead and we will consider whether these powers need to be strengthened further," he added.

More than 1,200 people have been arrested across the country and Mr Cameron said the Government was "keeping under constant review whether the courts have the sentencing powers they need".

Turning to the "innocent victims" of the riots, Mr Cameron said: "No one will forget the images of the woman jumping from a burning building or the furniture shop that had survived the Blitz but now has been tragically burnt to the ground.

"And everyone will have been impressed by the brave words of Tariq Jahan, a father in Birmingham whose son was so brutally and tragically run over and killed."

Promising to support those who lost homes and businesses, Mr Cameron said compensation would be available under the Riot Damages Act.

"The Government will ensure the police have the funds they need to meet the cost of any legitimate claims.

"And whereas normally claims must be received within 14 days, we will extend the period to 42 days."

The Association of British Insurers have said they expect the industry to be paying out in excess of £200m (€228m), Mr Cameron added.

The Government is setting up a £20m (€22.8m) "high street support scheme" to help affected businesses.

Tax breaks and deferred payments would also be on offer to help firms get back on their feet, he added.

The Bellwin Scheme, which provides emergency support to local councils, will be put into effect and a £10m (€11.4m) recovery scheme will help town halls make areas "safe, clean and clear again".

The UK government will also meet the immediate costs of emergency accommodation for families made homeless.

Promising to do "whatever it takes" to restore law and order, Mr Cameron acknowledged that the world had been "appalled" by the chaos on the streets of London and other cities.

He said: "This is a time for our country to pull together.

"To the law abiding people who play by the rules, and who are the overwhelming majority in our country, I say: the fightback has begun, we will protect you, if you've had your livelihood and property damaged, we will compensate you. We are on your side.

"And to the lawless minority, the criminals who have taken what they can get, I say this: We will track you down, we will find you, we will charge you, we will punish you. You will pay for what you have done.

"We need to show the world, which has looked on, frankly appalled, that the perpetrators of the violence we have seen on our streets are not in any way representative of our country - nor of our young people.

"We need to show them that we will address our broken society, we will restore a sense of stronger morality and responsibility - in every town, in every street and in every estate.

"And a year away from the Olympics, we need to show them the Britain that doesn't destroy, but that builds; that doesn't give up but stands up; that doesn't look back, but always forwards."

Labour leader Ed Miliband said: "Today as a House of Commons we stand shoulder to shoulder, united against the vandalism and the violence we have seen on our streets."

He added: "There can be no excuses, no justification. This behaviour has disgusted us all, it cannot be allowed to stand, we will not allow it to stand."

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