US gang expert to advise British PM

William Bratton said he would develop strategies on dealing with widespread rioting and gang culture.


David Cameron, the British prime minister, has acquired the services of a US street crime expert to advise the UK government on gang violence after England’s worst riots in decades left five people dead and city neighbourhoods smoldering.

William Bratton, credited with curbing street crime as police chief in New York, Los Angeles and Boston, said he would develop strategies on dealing with widespread rioting and gang culture.

“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 the Reuters news agency on Friday.

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Cameron has faced criticism over his leadership during rioting, which began in London and spread to other  English cities and towns.

The fatal shooting by police of a 29-year-old black man, Mark Duggan, in Tottenham, north London, triggered the riots, which have shocked the British people and sullied the country’s image a year before it hosts the Olympic Games.

A Downing Street spokesman said Cameron had spoken to Bratton on Friday, and that the former police chief – who now heads a private security firm, Kroll – would join a series of meetings in the autumn, working unpaid and in a personal capacity.

Hundreds charged

Bratton has worked with the British police at other times over the past 20 years.

“The government is very interested in trying to quickly come up with strategies and plans to deal with the issues and concerns identified during these riots,” said Bratton.

News of Bratton’s new role came as courts in Britain charged almost 800 people with violence, disorder and looting.

Among those charged is a man who suspected of robbing a Malaysian student in an incident that was watched by millions of people on the internet, Scotland Yard said on Saturday.

Reece Donovan, from Romford, a town just east of London, who is in his early 20s, was charged with robbing Asyraf Haziq Rosli, a Metropolitan Police spokesman said.

Rosli was filmed being helped up after his jaw was broken during unrest in Barking, east London, only for the men who aided him to then empty his rucksack, in one of the most shocking images of the unrest.

Donovan was due to appear in court later on Saturday, the spokesman added.

Across the country, more than 2,000 people have been arrested over the disorder that spread through several cities in the country.

British police flooded the streets again on Friday night to ensure weekend drinking does not reignite the rioting.

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.

Other forces, including those in Nottingham, Birmingham and Liverpool, said they would maintain a high level of policing over the weekend. They added that further trouble, after a couple of nights of quiet, was not expected.
Police hit back

Cameron, describing the four nights of looting, arson and violence as “criminality – pure and simple”, said the initial police response had been inadequate.

Community leaders in Birmingham working to defuse tensions in the aftermath of the riots [Al Jazeera]

His remarks drew a sharp reaction from the police service, which is facing deep cuts in numbers as part of a government austerity drive aimed at cutting the large public debt.

“The fact that politicians chose to come back is an irrelevance in terms of the tactics that were by then developing,” said Hugh Orde, head of the Association of Chief Police Officers, referring to Cameron and other senior ministers who cut short their holidays after two days of mayhem at home.

In total, across England 796 people have appeared in court, of whom 122 were under 18. Courts have been working through the night and two-thirds of those charged have been remanded in custody.

Calls for those convicted to be stripped of their state welfare handouts and booted out of publicly owned housing were receiving growing popular support.

Wandsworth Council in south London became the first local government to serve an eviction notice, on a tenant whose son has been charged. It will come into effect if he is convicted.

Source: Al Jazeera, News Agencies


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