David Cameron declared “all-out war” on gangs yesterday as the fragile political consensus over the response to the riots disintegrated.
The Prime Minister pledged to stamp out the criminal groups as he dismissed any link between last week's devastating violence and the coalition's austerity measures.
He also promised action to “turn around” 120,000 problem families known to disrupt neighbourhoods, as well as a renewed focus on encouraging responsibility and “moral” behaviour.
Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg was due to announce today that people convicted of last week's rioting and looting who are not sent to prison will be forced to do community work in the areas affected by their behaviour.
The Ministry of Justice is to order the Probation Service to arrange for Community Payback orders to take place on projects associated with the damage caused in the disorder or in the places where it took place.
Many will also be forced to meet the shopkeepers, homeowners and businessmen whose property was destroyed in an attempt to bring home the consequences of their actions.
Mr Clegg will become the last major party leader to contribute to the debate on the causes and consequences of the rioting and will attempt to stamp a Liberal Democrat identity on the Government's overall response.
Aides said the idea was to ensure that first-time offenders did not get “sucked into” repeat offending as a result of taking part in the riots, but had a chance of rehabilitation.
In his speech, Mr Clegg will say that “strong justice” means people change their ways.
“Victims of crime are only truly protected if punishment leads to criminals not committing crime again,” he was due to say.
It also emerged yesterday that Mr Clegg is attempting to broker a deal between Ed Miliband and the Government over the Labour leader's call for a full-scale independent inquiry into the riots.
Mr Clegg is proposing setting up a Victims and Communities Commission which would visit the areas affected by the rioting.
Mr Cameron is known to be opposed to setting up an “expensive and lengthy” formal inquiry, but could be prepared to compromise on a less formal — but still independent — investigation that would produce policy recommendations for ministers.
“No deal has yet been done but this is something we are looking at,” said a Downing Street source.