By Ray Fleming

LAST summer the British government asked Bill Bratton, a US police chief with wide experience of gangs in New York and Los Angeles, to help with the inquiries into the cause of the riots and looting that had taken place in London and other cities. Mr Bratton was even talked about as a possible new Chief Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police. But yesterday he expressed frustration and disappointment at the inability of UK authorities “to define a gang”. Without such definition, he said, “it is impossible to measure the problem or the degree of success in dealing with it. “ He said the Government's strategy is flawed but he doesn't know why there is resistance to the definition he recommends.

Following the Guardian/London School of Economics in depth Reading the Riots research into the causes of the riots the government appears to have dropped its initial assumption that gangs were a major factor.

In an article in the Mail on Sunday the Home Secretary Theresa May did not mention gangs but reiterated her belief that those involved were “an unruly mob intent on thieving, pure and simple.” One interesting piece of advice from Bill Bratton was this: “In Los Angeles it took us three generations, 80 years, to recognise that police are not the solution to this problem.” How long before the UK reaches the same conclusion?


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