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CPS chief cautions over rioters

Rioters should be treated by the courts like "any other case", the head of the Crown Prosecution Service has cautioned.

Director of Public Prosecutions Keir Starmer insisted that those involved in last month's disturbances should not be regarded as a "separate category" or dealt with differently from other criminals.

His comments, in an interview with The Daily Telegraph, come amid concern in some quarters that sentences being handed down to rioters are disproportionate, partly in response to public anger.

The head of the Prison Governors Association has spoken of a "feeding frenzy" and Liberal Democrat home affairs spokesman Tom Brake has urged against "retribution" by the courts.

Prime Minister David Cameron, by contrast, has praised the "tough message" that the courts have been sending out.

Mr Starmer did not criticise the sentencing of rioters in recent weeks, but stressed: "We should treat them as we do any other case. We need to keep our feet on the ground. In other areas, such as big terrorism cases, we have resisted the temptation to call for special measures. With disorder cases, we should adopt the same approach."

Mr Starmer also dismissed the idea that human rights legislation was a factor in last month's outbreak of violence and looting.

Mr Cameron has accused the "misinterpretation" of human rights laws of undermining the idea of responsibility and the sense of right and wrong.

Home Secretary Theresa May has asked for CPS guidance to prosecutors to say that, "where possible", anonymity should be lifted. But Mr Starmer said the law had not changed and that Ms May's comments were "a matter for her".

Earlier, Mr Cameron criticised the BBC's representation of the riots, accusing it of trying to link the violence to wider problems of inequality.


From Belfast Telegraph