Belfast Telegraph

Friday 19 December 2014

Government's riots response mauled

Riot police form a line in Tottenham, north London
Riot police form a line in Tottenham, north London

The Government has been accused of "insulting" the victims of the 2011 summer riots in English cities by declining to respond to many of the recommendations of a panel it commissioned to look into communities' experience of the unrest.

Labour MP David Lammy, in whose Tottenham constituency the riots began, accused ministers of burying their formal response to the report of the Riots, Communities and Victims Panel by releasing it without fanfare last month.

There was no ministerial statement and no separate press release to mark the publication of the response - which was attached to a Communities and Local Government Department release on July 12 detailing new guidance for firefighters in riot situations - and as a consequence media coverage was almost non-existent.

Even one member of the panel - which spent six months visiting cities affected by the riots to talk to victims and produced a report with 63 recommendations in March 2012 - said he was unaware that the Government's response had been published.

Rather than responding to each of the panel's recommendations in detail, the 30-page document sets out the action taken by the Government to deal with the criminals involved in vandalism and looting, restore business and community confidence, tackle the deep-rooted social issues underlying the unrest and improve relations between the police and the public

Mr Lammy told BBC Radio 4's World This Weekend: "We had four days of rioting, taxpayers' money was spent on this victims and communities inquiry, and the Government slipped this out the day before recess with no press release at all. It deserved a ministerial statement. It deserved a serious discussion in the House of Commons.

"When you look at the report and see that 39 of the recommendations, out of 63, have not even been addressed - the Government hasn't even had the decency to reject them - I have to say this is an insult to the five people who lost their lives, it's an insult to the many, many ordinary people who lost their shops, who lost their homes, who lost their buildings.

"The public saw four days of burning in cities as far afield as Birmingham and Manchester and London and the Government has not been prepared to explain why it is that it's not prepared to accept the recommendations of its own inquiry. It is totally, totally unacceptable and frankly unprecedented in this country."

Communities minister Don Foster rejected suggestions that the Government had attempted to "bury" its report.

"There have been a large number of different activities that we have done," he told the programme. "This is just one part of the package. Surely what ultimately matters is... what we are actually doing, rather than getting publicity for it."

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