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Met chief questions 'feral' comment

Britain's most senior police officer has questioned the Justice Secretary's description of those blamed for England's riots as a "feral underclass".

Acting Commissioner Tim Godwin said he would not have used Kenneth Clarke's term, as the officer outlined his vision for the future of policing in the wake of the widespread violence.

When asked by the London Assembly how politicians could help, Mr Godwin called for assistance to empower disadvantaged communities.

Referring to the comments by Mr Clarke, Mr Godwin added: "I would not use (that term) myself. The use of the term feral was first used in about 2000 following the death of Damilola Taylor."

Mr Godwin said there has "got to be a big debate in London in terms of how we empower local communities".

When pressed further about Mr Clarke's comments, he added: "It's a term I would not personally use but I think we do need to understand the level of fear of crime that actually encourages them to join gangs."

Appearing before Assembly members at City Hall, Mr Godwin said morale is as strong as it ever has been at the Metropolitan Police. He also said next year's operation at the Olympics "will be better as a result of the experience we have had". He added: "It is a very positive outcome in terms of working together."

Mr Godwin said the force would do everything in its powers to avoid a repeat of the widespread disorder, saying: "In terms of the future we will make sure that we over-egg the pudding in terms of numbers."

Mr Godwin told MPs on Tuesday that the crisis last month had been a "wake-up call" for criminal justice.

He has already admitted that the scale of the riots caught police by surprise, adding he wants to see double the number of specially-trained officers in future.


From Belfast Telegraph