Friday News Review

Cameron criticised by Police

One of Britain’s most senior police officers has defended forces’ handling of the riots and dismissed the role of politicians as an “irrelevance” in bringing them under control. Sir Hugh Orde, president of the Association of Chief Police Officers, spoke out hours after David Cameron told MPs that “far too few” officers had initially been deployed. He told the BBC’s Newsnight programme that police had learned from and reacted quickly to the disorder. Sir Hugh derided the eventual decisions of top politicians including Prime Minister David Cameron and Home Secretary Theresa May to cut short their holidays to return during the crisis. “The fact that politicians chose to come back is an irrelevance in terms of the tactics that were by then developing,” he said. “The more robust policing tactics you saw were not a function of political interference; they were a function of the numbers being available to allow the chief constables to change their tactics.” Asked if budget cuts would reduce public safety, he said it would “inevitably” lead to fewer police officers – and therefore make the job more difficult. “We need to have some very honest conversations with Government about what we stop doing if we are to maintain front line service delivery at current levels,” he said. – Telegraph

David Cameron is on a collision course with the police after the government used an emergency Commons debate on the English riots to issue a point-by-point dissection of the police’s “insufficient” tactics during the week. The prime minister praised the bravery of the police but said they had made a major miscalculation when violence first erupted in Tottenham on Saturday night after a demonstration over the shooting of Mark Duggan. Cameron said: “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 truth is that the police have been facing a new and unique challenge with different people doing the same thing – basically looting – in different places all at the same time.” But a few hours later, home secretary Theresa May, who opened the lengthy Commons debate on the riots on Thursday, warned that the failure of the police to contain violence in the early part of the week jeopardised a core British tradition. – the Guardian

A man of old fashioned values: Richard Mannington Bowes, 68, dies after defending his neighbourhood

Richard Mannington Bowes was pictured lying face down in a pool of blood after being attacked on Monday while trying to stop youths setting fire to large rubbish bins across the green from the flat where he lived alone. This morning a 22-year-old man was arrested on suspicion of his murder. Yesterday it emerged that Mr Mannington Bowes was a recluse who was tormented by youths repeatedly urinating and throwing litter in the street outside his home. He was placed on a life support machine but from the outset his condition was so serious that doctors did not believe he would pull through. His estranged sister travelled down from her home in Derby yesterday, for a chance to say goodbye. Police described the former accountant as “reclusive and private” and said it had taken two days to work out his identity because he had cut himself off from the world since his retirement. The 68-year-old, originally from Bournemouth, had lived alone in a flat overlooking Ealing’s Haven Green in west London for more than 10 years and had no mobile telephone or landline. Neighbours said he was a man of “old-fashioned values” and had a history of confronting anti-social behaviour in the area, regularly reprimanding youths for littering in the alley outside his flat. – the Telegraph

More powers? Less cuts

Ministers and the security services are planning draconian powers to shut down or disrupt mobile phone messaging services and social networks in times of civil disorder. Downing Street sources said they were considering the “moral and technical” questions of how to grant new powers blocking all mobile communications to prevent rioters organising through websites such as Twitter and the BlackBerry Messenger service. David Cameron said “nothing should be off the table” in efforts to prevent a repeat of this week’s rioting in London and cities across England. He also spoke out about how “free flow of information… can also be used for ill”. The new powers prompted politicians, social media companies and civil liberties campaigners to warn against a “knee-jerk” response that could infringe the freedom of expression and business of law-abiding web users. Privately, senior police officers also expressed doubt that the measure would have anything more than a “marginal effect” on preventing disorder and said the real issue was the numbers of officers on the streets. The president of the Association of Chief Police Officers, Sir Hugh Orde, has also warned in The Independent that “to suggest human rights get in the way of effective policing is simply wrong”. – the Independent

Olympic ambassador reported by mother

An Olympics ambassador allegedly hurled bricks at a police car in a frenzied attack during the London riots that forced officers to flee. Chelsea Ives, 18, also took part in attacks on mobile phone stores in Enfield, north London, on Sunday night, Westminster magistrates court heard. Ives, who has met London mayor Boris Johnson and London Olympics chief Sebastian Coe and visited the House of Commons, was reported to the police by her mother Adrienne, who said she saw her throwing bricks at a police car on a BBC news report. The teenager, whose lawyer described her as a “talented sportswoman”, boasted that she was having “the best day ever”, the court heard. Prosecutor Becky Owen said Ives had led an attack on a Vodafone store. “She was first to pick up masonry and hurl it at the window,” she told the court. The court also heard Ives took part in an attack on Phones4U. – the Guardian

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