UK says it won't change police reforms despite riots

British gov't plans to take 2 billion pounds from police budget; Cameron enlists US street crime expert for gang-violence advice.

By REUTERS
August 13, 2011 11:34
2 minute read.
London police, cops

London UK police, cops_311. (photo credit: Reuters)

LONDON - Britain will stick to its police reforms, which include a reduction in officer numbers, despite the recent riots that spread across the country, finance minister George Osborne said on Saturday.

"We are committed, as the Home Secretary (interior minister) and the prime minister and I have made it clear this week, to the plan we've set out for police reform," he told BBC radio.

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"And it is about reform, it is about improving the presence of the police in our communities, making the police more visible."

The government is planning to take two billion pounds out of the police budget, meaning a loss of about 30,000 jobs, to tackle a record budget deficit.

In related news, UK Prime Minister David Cameron, who under attack over his leadership during the rioting and looting that swept English cities, has enlisted US street crime expert William Bratton to advise the government on handling gang violence.

"I'm being hired by the British government to consult with them on the issue of gangs, gang violence and gang intervention from the American experience and to offer some advice and counsel on their experience," Bratton told Reuters in New York.


British police flooded the streets again on Friday night to ensure weekend drinking does not reignite the rioting that shocked Britons and sullied the country's image a year before it hosts the Olympic Games.

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.

Other forces, including those in Nottingham, Birmingham and Liverpool, said they would maintain a high level of policing over the weekend, though they said they did not expect further trouble after a couple of nights of quiet.

Even in normal times, alcohol-fueled street disorder is common across urban Britain at weekends.

Cameron, describing the four nights of looting, arson and violence, in which five people were killed, as "criminality, pure and simple", said the initial police response had been inadequate.


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