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Cameron: Fightback against rioters has begun
Authorities considering social media restrictions, curfews and ban on facemasks, UK PM says, after four days of rioting.
Last Modified: 11 Aug 2011 09:49



David Cameron, the British prime minister, says curfew measures and restrictions on social media websites will be considered following days of rioting in London and other English towns and cities.

Cameron called for the country to pull together as he addressed an emergency session of the British parliament on Thursday after a calmer night across the country that saw massive numbers of police officers on the streets of London.

Rioters looted shops, set torched cars and buildings and attacked police stations in four nights of violence that spread from London to other cities including Liverpool, Manchester, Birmingham and Nottingham.

"The fightback has well and truly begun. This is a time for our country to pull together," Cameron told the House of Commons, which was recalled from its summer recess to discuss England's worst unrest in decades.

"To the law-abiding people, I say we will protect you. if you had your livelihood or property damaged, we will compenste you. We are on your side. To the lawless minority, I say this: We will track you down and we will punish you. You will pay for what you have done."

Cameron said authorities were looking at ways of stopping people communicating via social media websites if they were suspected of plotting "criminality and violence".

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He said face coverings could also be banned if criminality was suspected and said authorities were considering whether wider powers of curfew for police were necessary. Current levels of policing will remain in place until the weekend, Cameron said.

A possible role for the army in preventing and tackling further rioting was also being discussed.

"It is the government's responsibility to make sure that every future contingency is looked at, including whether there are tasks that the army could undertake that might free up more police for the front line," said Cameron.

Cameron said on Tuesday that police had been authorised to use baton rounds and that contingency plans had been made for the use of water cannon in tackling further riots.

'Whatever is necessary'

The disorder, which has seen police arrest more than 1,000 people, erupted on Saturday night in north London, two days after the fatal shooting by police of Mark Duggan, a 29-year-old black man.

Cameron said the circumstances of Duggan's shooting needed to be fully investigated. But he said it was "preposterous" to link wider rioting to his death.

Al Jazeera's Laurence Lee, reporting from London, said courts had been sitting through the night to process the massive number of cases generated by the unrest.

Police have made 1,069 arrests across the country in response to the trouble, including 768 in London, 109 in the West Midlands and 90 in Nottingham. At least 167 people have been charged so far.

The riots have disrupted sporting events, with doubts over whether this weekend's season-opening English Premier League football matches will go ahead.

The game between Tottenham Hotspur, whose ground is close to where the trouble started on Saturday night, and Everton has already been postponed "due to safety concerns," according to the London club.

'Culture of fear'

London has been quiet since Tuesday following a huge boost in police numbers which saw 16,000 officers on the streets, compared to the 6,000 out on Monday night.


Click for special coverage on the riots in the UK

Police said they had arrested a man and launched a murder inquiry after three men were killed by a car shortly after they had left a mosque. They were said to be protecting their neighbourhood during the riots.

Cameron said on Wednesday that anyone convicted of violent disorder would be sent to prison.

"This continued violence is simply not acceptable and it will be stopped. We will not allow a culture of fear on our streets."

Cameron spoke of the need to have stronger penalties, better parenting and the importance of having better discipline in schools.

"There are pockets of our society that are not just broken but, frankly, sick... when we see children as young as 12 and 13 looting and laughing, when we see the disgusting sight of an injured young man with people pretending to help him while they are robbing him, it is clear there are things that are badly wrong in our society," he added.

Source:
Al Jazeera and agencies
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