By Ray Fleming

TWO prominent figures from very different sectors of British life spoke with one voice yesterday. The Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, and the former Chief Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police, Lord Stevens, had not discussed in advance what they were going to say but they were nonetheless singing from the same hymn sheet.

Lord Stevens gave a press conference to launch an independent inquiry into the future of policing in Britain, which he will chair. He said he was particularly concerned that public disorder will become an increasing problem for the police and he predicted “years of disorder” as disaffected teenagers are “starved of any hope for the future”. Archbishop Williams used a similar phrase -- “unemployment will fuel disorder” in an article in The Guardian commenting on the paper's first report on in-depth interviews with 270 people who participated in the summer riots in England. A major theme of the report was the “deep-seated antipathy towards the police” among those who rioted and looted in the summer. The inquiry to be led by Lord Stevens, while independent and, he said, “cross-party”, has the support of the Labour party. The Shadow Home Secretary Yvette Cooper said at the press conference yesterday that Labour had taken the lead because of the scale of cuts in policing, confusion over reforms and declining morale in the force.

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