LONDON, Aug. 13 (UPI) — A former New York City police commissioner says British police need to instill fear in response to rioting by youth in five English cities this week.
Prime Minister David Cameron took on Bill Bratton as an adviser to deal with rioting that spread from London to Birmingham, Manchester, Liverpool and Nottingham.
The 63-year-old former top cop in the United States’ largest city said British police were treating the violence as a public order issue rather than criminal activity and urged a harsher response, The Daily Telegraph reported.
“In my experience, the younger criminal element don’t fear the police and have been emboldened to challenge the police and effectively take them on,” he said. “You want the criminal element to fear [police], fear their ability to interrupt their own ability to carry out criminal behavior, and arrest and prosecute and incarcerate them.”
The violence first erupted last weekend in the North London suburb of Tottenham over a police shooting of a criminal suspect. Scores of buildings and vehicles were torched and looting went virtually unchecked. More than 1,600 people have been arrested and courts are working around the clock to process the accused. At least five people died in the unrest, the BBC reported.
Bratton, who also headed the Los Angeles police force, told ABC News British police couldn’t maintain the status quo.
“It’s not easy, it’s hard work, but it can be done and in many respects you have to argue that it must be done because you just can’t continue the way you’ve been going,” he said.