UK’s Cameron seeks U.S. advice on gangs after riots

LONDON, (Reuters) –  British Prime Minister David  Cameron, under attack over his leadership during the rioting and  looting that swept English cities this week, has enlisted U.S. street crime expert William Bratton to advise the government on  handling gang violence.

William Bratton

“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 Reuters in New York.

British police flooded the streets again last night to  ensure weekend drinking does not reignite the rioting that shocked Britons and sullied the country’s image a year before it  hosts the Olympic Games.

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 — a measure of the perceived public order challenge.

Other forces, including those in Nottingham, Birm-ingham and  Liverpool, said they would maintain a high level of policing  over the weekend, though they said they did not expect further  trouble after a couple of nights of quiet.

Even in normal times, alcohol-fuelled street disorder is   common across urban Britain at weekends.

Cameron, describing the four nights of looting, arson and  violence, in which five people were killed, as “criminality,  pure and simple”, said the initial police response had been  inadequate.

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.

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

“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, a former  police chief and now chairman of private security firm Kroll.

A Downing Street spokesman said Cameron had spoken to  Bratton on Friday, and that Bratton would join a series of  meetings in the autumn, working unpaid and in a personal  capacity. Bratton has worked with the British police at other  times over the past 20 years.

Cameron himself has not escaped criticism. A ComRes poll for  The Independent newspaper showed that 54 percent of Britons say  he failed to provide leadership early enough to control the  riots, while an ICM survey for The Guardian showed that only 30  percent thought Cameron responded well to the riots and 44  percent thought the opposite.

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