16 Aug 2011

Home Secretary considers new curfew powers after riots

Home Secretary Theresa May says she will consider giving the police new curfew powers as she calls for “urgent police reform” in the wake of England’s riots.

Mrs May praised the police force for their response during the disorder, but said police needed to be made more “visible and available”.

“The experience of the last 10 days makes the case for police reform more urgent than ever.

“What matters is not the overall number of police officers working, but the number that can be deployed.

“Only 12 per cent of officers are visible at any one time. That does not mean that the other 88 per cent are not doing anything. But it does mean that the police can be made more visible.”

New police powers

Mrs May said new curfew powers would be considered as part of new police powers for tackling disturbances.

“Under existing laws, there is no power to impose a general curfew in a particular area, and, while curfew conditions can be placed on some offenders as part of their Asbo, criminal sentence or bail conditions, there are only limited powers to impose them on somebody under the age of 16,” she said.

“These are the sort of changes we need to consider.”

She said the police would also be given new guidelines on how to deal with riots in light of the way the recent disorder was handled.

Defending cuts

She said a National Crime Agency would be established to help cut bureaucracy and help police focus on “getting out on the streets and cutting crime”.

But she defended the proposed police cuts, saying the force must take its share of budget cuts.

“I am clear that, even at the end of this spending period, forces will still have the resources to deploy officers in the same numbers we have seen in the last week.

“It’s clear to me that we can improve the visibility and availability of the police to the public.

“It’s more important than ever that we do so, because we are asking the police to fight crime on a tighter budget.”

She also called for a new Police Commissioner to be appointed without delay ahead of the 2012 Olympics.