London riots subdued, wheels of justice begin to turn [VIDEO]
The first batches of more than 1,200 people arrested across England began appearing in court today. Among them were a postman, a charity worker, and a millionaire's teen daughter.
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At Westminster magistrates court it was revealed that university graduate Natasha Reid had handed herself into police because she was "unable to sleep" after stealing a television from an electrical store in north London.Skip to next paragraph
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Despite Ms. Reid acknowledging her remorse and guilty plea, district judge Elizabeth Roscoe said she still faced prison ahead of sentencing because of the serious nature of the offenses.
In other courts the faces of those allegedly taking part in the riots emerged and many were not the impoverished stereotypes assumed to have been behind events. They included a postman, school mentor, students, a lifeguard, a charity worker, and a millionaire’s teenage daughter, Laura Johnson, accused of stealing £5,000 ($8,100) worth of electrical gear from a chain store in southeast London.
Perhaps most shocking was the appearance of an 11-year-old boy at Highbury court in north London and a 12-year-old in Manchester, both charged with looting and stealing.
Peace largely restored
While the courts deal with the list of defendants, peace has largely been restored in London – where 16,000 police will again be patrolling tonight – and other cities such as Birmingham, Wolverhampton, Manchester and Liverpool.
Insurance experts have estimated that claims from riot-hit businesses could run to £200 million ($324 million). Many smaller traders, already struggling in the recession, do not have insurance. In his speech today, Mr Cameron announced a £20 million ($32 million) program to help affected businesses and a £10 million ($16 million) recovery package to help local councils pay for the riot damage.
In a shift away from traditional British policing, Mr. Cameron said police might be allowed to spray rioters with dye to help identify troublemakers, possibly from water cannon.
He also said that police might be given new powers to remove face masks, possible bans on would-be rioters using social-network sites to encourage trouble, and initiatives to stop the spread of gang culture. He cited the successful implementation of the task force set up in Glasgow, Scotland, in 2008 to combat gang membership and the Boston cease-fire project set up in the 1990s.
Cameron pressured to curtail budget cuts on police
Cameron, despite earning plaudits since returning from holiday on Tuesday to take charge of the crisis, is coming under increasing pressure to stop police budget cuts because of the credit crunch, which critics say will lead to as many 16,000 officers lose their jobs.
Opposition leader Ed Miliband of the Labour Party said: “The events of the last few days have been a stark reminder to us all that police on our streets make our communities safer and make the public feel safer.
“Given the absolute priority the public attaches to a visible and active police presence, does the prime minister understand why they would think it is not right that he goes ahead with the cuts to police numbers? Will he now think again on this issue?”
He was joined by London mayor Boris Johnson, a conservative colleague and Oxford University friend of Cameron. He told the BBC: “If you ask me whether I think there is a case for cutting police budgets in the light of these events, then my answer to that would be a 'no.' ”