Thursday, 18 August 2011

New Police Powers To Tackle Youth Disorder

By Ben Aulakh

A range of new powers to allow police to tackle organised street crime, and a new umbrella police agency, have been announced by the Home Secretary Theresa May.

In a speech on Monday on police reform the Home Secretary announced the creation of a National Crime Agency to tackle serious and organised crime in the UK.

The minster also announced a raft of updated police measures including giving forces the option of imposing curfews in specific areas, and removing the anonymity of youth offenders.

She said, “We will also establish a national crime agency, an operational crime fighting body, charged with taking on serious and organised crime, economic crime, border policing and child protection.

“I have also asked that the CPS reinforce that prosecutors can and should request, in the public interest, that the Courts lift the anonymity of young offenders once they have been found guilty.”

“We will also give the police new powers, including new gang injunctions for young people and the right to remove face coverings, as well as considering new curfew powers.”

However in the speech Mrs May was also critical of the ‘immediate police response’ to the rioting.

She said how, as chief police officers have admitted, ‘that when faced with an unprecedented satiation, the immediate police response was not enough.’

She added, “That is why in the future, at times of need, forces will be able, under the new statutory police requirement, to pool resources and allow the sort of surge capacity that we saw work to such good effect on the streets from last Tuesday onwards.”

“We saw that it was only when the police surged in greater numbers -- 16,000 in London's case -- backed by a tougher arrests policy and earlier intervention to disperse crowds, were officers able to restore order.”

The power to impose curfews on individuals under the age of 16 is also being considered in reactions to last week’s violent disturbances.

However, in an article written in The Guardian newspaper, the former Conservative Party leader Ian Duncan Smith has advocated a very different tactic to tackle gang culture.

“Gangs are a product of social breakdown and a driver of it; family breakdown, unemployment, educational failure, addiction and debt are to blame for fraying the social fabric of society.

“We need a new national approach to combating gang culture, because as senior police officers on both sides of the Atlantic have said, you cannot just arrest your way out of this problem.”

Photograph from ukhomeoffice on flickr. 

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