Soul searching lies ahead as riots cool in Britain

LONDON,  (Reuters) – British Prime Minister David  Cameron will face pressure today to soften his austerity  plans, toughen up policing and do more to help inner-city  communities after days of riots and looting laid bare deep  social tensions in a depressed economy.

With the public seething over the looting of anything from  sweets to televisions, Cameron has so far dismissed the rioters  as nothing more than opportunistic criminals and denied the  unrest was linked to the knock-on effects of deep spending cuts.

But community leaders say inequality, cuts to public  services and high youth unemployment are also probably to blame  for some of the worst violence seen in Britain for decades.

As the clear up continues, the Conservative-Liberal Democrat  coalition government must find quick fixes to avoid further  unrest while also addressing longer-term problems in what  Cameron has called “broken Britain”.

“There are pockets of our society that are not just broken  but frankly sick,” Cameron told reporters.

A surge in police numbers helped to calm streets in London  and cities across England such as Manchester and Birmingham last night, but four days of often unchecked disorder have  embarrassed the authorities, leaving communities ransacked and  exhausting emergency services.

Police arrested more than 1,000 people across England,  filling cells and leaving courts working through the night to  process hundreds of cases. Among those charged were a teaching  assistant, an 11-year-old boy and a charity worker.

It is unclear whether the peace will hold, but trouble on  Wednesday night was limited to the odd skirmish. Businessmen and  residents had also come together to protect their areas.

“Blacks, Asians, whites – we all live in the same community  – why do we have to kill one another?” said Tariq Jahan, whose  son was one of three young Muslim men run over by a car and  killed while apparently protecting property in the mayhem in  Birmingham on Tuesday night.

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