Government considers thug crackdown
The Government is considering a crackdown on hooligans who cause trouble at public protests in the wake of the "mindless violence" which marred a huge union-organised demonstration.
Home Secretary Theresa May raised the prospect of new powers to ban known hooligans from attending rallies and marches and forcing people to remove face-scarves and balaclavas.
The move came as controversy continued to rage over events in central London on Saturday, when up to 500,000 people staged a peaceful protest against Government spending cuts, which was hijacked by gangs of violent youths.
Ms May praised police, who came under attack during hours of violence in the West End, telling the Commons: "I want to condemn in the strongest possible terms the mindless behaviour of the thugs responsible for the violence."
The minister said 149 out of 200 arrested had been charged and warned that the number will increase as officers study video evidence, as they did after last year's student protests.
"The message to those who carry out violence is clear - you will be caught and you will be punished. Just as the police review their operational tactics, so we in the Home Office will review the powers available to the police.
"I have asked the police whether they need further powers to prevent violence before it occurs. I am willing to consider powers which would ban known hooligans from rallies and marches and I will look into the powers the police already have to force the removal of face-coverings and balaclavas.
"If the police need more help to do their work, I will not hesitate in granting it to them."
Shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper said Labour condemned the "few hundred mindless idiots" responsible for violence.
And police are considering using stop and search powers to prevent troublemakers disrupting next month's royal wedding, said Metropolitan Police Commander Bob Broadhurst.