Clegg: looters will meet victims to face consequences of their actions


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People convicted of last week's rioting and looting who are not sent to prison will be forced to do community work in the areas affected by their behaviour, Nick Clegg will announce today.

The Ministry of Justice is to order the Probation Service to arrange for Community Payback Orders to take place on projects associated with the damage caused in the disorder. Many will also be forced to meet the shopkeepers, homeowners and businessmen whose property was destroyed in the rioting in an attempt to bring home the consequences of their actions.

Aides said the idea was to ensure that first-time offenders did not get "sucked into" repeat offending, but had a chance of rehabilitation.

"Clearly some people are going to go to prison, but this is about ensuring that those who don't contribute to the areas where they've caused the damage," said one senior Liberal Democrat aide. "We don't want to create repeat offenders. Meeting victims has proved to be a very effective way of ensuring that people face up to the consequences of their actions."

Mr Clegg will say that "strong justice" means people change their ways. "Victims of crime are only truly protected if punishment leads to criminals not committing crime again," he will say. "That's why those people who behaved so despicably last week should have to look their victims in the eye. They should have to see for themselves the consequences of their actions and they should be put to work cleaning up the damage and destruction they have caused so they don't do it again."

Theresa May, the Home Secretary, has also written to Sir Denis O'Connor, the chief inspector of constabulary, asking whether sufficient numbers of police officers have training in public-order policing. She will also make a speech today outlining why she believes it is necessary to continue with the Government's plan of introducing directly elected police commissioners.

In remarks which may be seen by senior officers as provocative, she will claim that the last 10 days have underlined the importance of political accountability over the police service. Senior officers have expressed anger at what they perceive as Government interference in operational decisions.

Mrs May will also claim the message of the riots was that the service functioned best when working closely with elected politicians who could ensure public concerns were reflected in decisions taken on the ground.