Thursday News Review

Cameron under pressure to rethink police cuts

David Cameron is facing growing cabinet pressure to rethink the coalition’s policing cuts in the wake of the deaths of three youngBirmingham men, who were hit by a car during violent disturbances in the city. As the Police Federation warned of a “catastrophe” if similar riots erupted after the cuts were introduced, a senior government source said the Home Office would be advised to take a fresh look at its plans to cut £2bn from police funding over the next few years. “The optics have changed,” the source told the Guardian. Cameron said the cuts would not lead to a “reduction in visible policing”. He is expected to announce some emergency funding when he addresses the Commons on Thursday, to cover the extra costs of policing this week’s riots, as well as the possibility of insurance claims against police on the grounds they provided no protection to businesses in a riot. But there are fears in Whitehall that the Home Office plan to make savings in the police service could leave an “exposed flank” in any future riots. London‘s mayor Boris Johnson warned the government against cutting numbers. “The case was always pretty frail and it’s been substantially weakened. This is not the time to think about making substantial cuts in police numbers,” he told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme. – the Guardian

David Cameron appeared increasingly isolated last night after senior police officers, MPs and even the Conservative Mayor of London united in a call for him to reconsider police cuts in the face of four days of sustained rioting. In an attempt to regain the political initiative the Prime Minister had declared that a police “fightback” was under way, and that water cannon were being made available at 24 hours’ notice. But senior police chiefs said these would be ineffectual and the real question was not whether they could cope with the current disturbances, but whether they would be able to deal with similar civil disturbances in future with thousands fewer officers. The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, defied Mr Cameron’s position and openly criticised the plan for 20 per cent cuts in police budgets. “The case was always pretty frail and it has been substantially weakened,” he said. “This is not a time to think about making substantial cuts in police numbers.” – the Independent

Parliament returns to debate riots

The Prime Minister will use an emergency Commons debate to set out plans to ensure that people have confidence in the justice system. He will say that severe punishments will be meted out to those responsible for the destruction and robbery of the past five days. He backs plans to ensure that council tenants found guilty of taking part in the mayhem will be evicted. Ministers are redrafting consultation documents to ensure that councils get those powers. Some councils, including Greenwich and Hammersmith and Fulham in London and Salford in Manchester, announced yesterday that they were already pushing ahead with the measure. Grant Shapps, the housing minister, was tightening the law to make sure that even if a rioter was convicted of a crime outside their borough they could lose their council home — something that is not possible at the moment. “Criminal or anti-social behaviour in the local neighbourhood by a tenant or a member of their family can provide grounds for eviction,” he said. “The Government is looking to strengthen those powers and so anyone involved in the unrest should stop and think about the long-term impact that their actions will have on the rest of their lives.” – the Telegraph

An emergency session of Parliament will be held today to discuss the rioting and looting which has caused devastation across England and left three men who attempted to protect their community from the violence dead. MPs have been recalled to the Commons by Prime Minister David Cameron who yesterday declared a fightback against those responsible for causing widespread destruction during four nights of unrest in towns and cities up and down the country. Mr Cameron will today make a statement to Parliament in which he is expected to spell out further plans to deal with the disorder and compensate riot-damaged businesses. He will also chair another meeting of the Government’s Cobra emergency committee and discuss the rioting with fellow Cabinet members. – the Independent

King warns of “headwinds”

Sir Mervyn King warned that the headwinds facing Britain’s fragile economic recovery were becoming “stronger by the day”, as the Bank of England cut its growth forecasts. City analysts predicted that interest rates would remain at their record low of 0.5% until 2013, after the governor used his quarterly inflation report briefing to warn that the UK could not be isolated from the turmoil in the global economy. As George Osborne, the chancellor, prepared to address the House of Commons on Thursday on the risks for the UK from the mayhem in world financial markets, the Bank’s nine-member monetary policy committee (MPC) downgraded its growth forecast to about 1.5% this year. That was down from 1.8% in its last report three months ago, and weaker than the 1.7% pencilled in by the Office for Budget Responsibility. King warned that the Bank’s number-crunchers had not included in their forecasts what he called “the unimaginable and the unmentionable” – risks impossible to quantify, such as a full-blown sovereign debt crisis in the eurozone. “It is very important that we do not see the development of a sovereign debt crisis.” – the Guardian

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