Nick Clegg: 'Voices of riot victims will be heard'

The Government is to establish an independent panel to give victims of the riots a chance to "have their voice heard", Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg said today.

Mr Clegg told a Whitehall news conference that the communities and victims panel, chaired by an independent figure, would produce a report within six to nine months to be presented to the leaders of all three main political parties.

"It won't be a public inquiry, it won't be established under the Inquiries Act, but it will serve as a way in which victims and communities can have their voice heard," he said.

Mr Clegg said the Cabinet Office would also be tendering for a contract to do research into the communities affected by the disturbances to find out more about "what happened, who did what and why they did it".

"It is really important at a time like this that we should not allow hope and optimism to be suffocated by fear and pessimism," he said.

Mr Clegg also confirmed plans for a "riot payback scheme", with offenders helping to clean up areas hit by the disturbances.

Victims will also be given the right to confront those who tore up their neighbourhoods to hammer home the fact that the actions of rioters had consequences, with additional money provided to make that possible.

Mr Clegg said: "In every single one of the communities affected there will be community payback schemes, riot payback schemes, where you will see people in visible orange clothing making up the damage done, repairing and improving the neighbourhoods affected.

"I also want them to face their victims. I want them to face people like the woman I met on Monday last week in Tottenham, who said to me that she was still wearing the clothes ... she was wearing when she ran out of her flat before her own flat was burned down.

"The offender who did that, who set fire to that building, should have to face her and understand that there are human consequences, to explain why he or she did what they did and to apologise."

As part of the measures to end the "dismal cycle of repeat crime", Mr Clegg also said that those released from jail from March next year would be "met at the prison gates" by providers in the Work Programme.

The offenders will be put through a "tough process so that they find work and they stay on the straight and narrow".

A commission to examine the causes of the riots had been called for by Labour leader Ed Miliband, but David Cameron originally resisted the suggestion.

Mr Clegg said: "It's not a question of who has persuaded who of what. There have been various discussions between the party leaders over the weekend and, indeed, yesterday. We are not there yet in terms of the details.

"The principle is really clear. We don't want a grandees committee, we want a grassroots process where people in the communities affected and the victims who have been so damaged and hurt can give their views about what needs to happen to ensure it doesn't happen again."

Mr Clegg backed Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith's plan to strip some benefits from rioters but warned that there could be "unintended consequences" unless the scheme was carefully thought out .

He said: "We are going to take our time to look at this. Of course you need to be proportionate, of course you need to be careful, of course you don't want to create unintended consequences where the taxpayer ends up footing more of the bill or we create more social problems or problems of law and order.

"But the principles are clear: there is conditionality in our benefits system, you can't just expect a blank cheque whatever you do, that there are consequences for your actions - that's built into the system already - and we are now going to take our time to reflect carefully on how to build on that."

Mr Clegg acknowledged the Liberal Democrats had been forced to drop their previous opposition to extending gang injunctions to cover under-18s

"I don't think anyone could have witnessed last week's events and somehow been complacent about gang culture," he said.

"There does seem to be some early evidence that in some areas there was a very strong gang element and there is even some anecdotal evidence that gangs were co-operating to maximise their looting opportunities.

"Of course we need to look at that and that is why I think it is right that we revisit our positions on gang culture."

PA

Arts and Entertainment
The eyes have it: Kate Bush
music
Arts and Entertainment
booksNovelist takes aim at Orwell's rules for writing plain English
Arts and Entertainment
Al Pacino in ‘The Humbling’, as an ageing actor
filmHam among the brilliance as actor premieres two films at festival
News
Fifi Trixibelle Geldof with her mother, Paula Yates, in 1985
people
News
ebooksAn evocation of the conflict through the eyes of those who lived through it
Sport
Mario Balotelli in action during his Liverpool debut
football ...but he can't get on the scoresheet in impressive debut
Environment
Pigeons have been found with traces of cocaine and painkillers in their system
environmentCan species be 'de-extincted'?
Arts and Entertainment
booksExclusive extract from Howard Jacobson’s acclaimed new novel
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
A Pilgrim’s Progress is described by its publisher as “the one-and-only definitive record” of David Hockney's life and works
people
Sport
Loic Remy signs for Chelsea
footballBlues wrap up deal on the eve of the transfer window
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Art
Arts and Entertainment
Elizabeth McGovern as Cora, Countess of Grantham and Richard E Grant as Simon Bricker
TV
Life and Style
Instagram daredevils get thousands of followers
techMeet the daredevil photographers redefining urban exploration with death-defying stunts
Arts and Entertainment
Diana Beard, nicknamed by the press as 'Dirty Diana'
TVDaughter says contestant was manipulated 'to boost ratings'
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

Alexander Fury: The designer names to look for at fashion week this season

The big names to look for this fashion week

This week, designers begin to show their spring 2015 collections in New York
Will Self: 'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

Will Self takes aim at Orwell's rules for writing plain English
Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

Toy guns proving a popular diversion in a country flooded with the real thing
Al Pacino wows Venice

Al Pacino wows Venice

Ham among the brilliance as actor premieres two films at festival
Neil Lawson Baker interview: ‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.

Neil Lawson Baker interview

‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.
The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

Wife of President Robert Mugabe appears to have her sights set on succeeding her husband
The model of a gadget launch: Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed

The model for a gadget launch

Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed
Alice Roberts: She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

Alice Roberts talks about her new book on evolution - and why her early TV work drew flak from (mostly male) colleagues
Get well soon, Joan Rivers - an inspiration, whether she likes it or not

Get well soon, Joan Rivers

She is awful. But she's also wonderful, not in spite of but because of the fact she's forever saying appalling things, argues Ellen E Jones
Doctor Who Into the Dalek review: A classic sci-fi adventure with all the spectacle of a blockbuster

A fresh take on an old foe

Doctor Who Into the Dalek more than compensated for last week's nonsensical offering
Fashion walks away from the celebrity runway show

Fashion walks away from the celebrity runway show

As the collections start, fashion editor Alexander Fury finds video and the internet are proving more attractive
Meet the stars of TV's Wolf Hall... and it's not the cast of the Tudor trilogy

Meet the stars of TV's Wolf Hall...

... and it's not the cast of the Tudor trilogy
Weekend at the Asylum: Europe's biggest steampunk convention heads to Lincoln

Europe's biggest steampunk convention

Jake Wallis Simons discovers how Victorian ray guns and the martial art of biscuit dunking are precisely what the 21st century needs
Don't swallow the tripe – a user's guide to weasel words

Don't swallow the tripe – a user's guide to weasel words

Lying is dangerous and unnecessary. A new book explains the strategies needed to avoid it. John Rentoul on the art of 'uncommunication'
Daddy, who was Richard Attenborough? Was the beloved thespian the last of the cross-generation stars?

Daddy, who was Richard Attenborough?

The atomisation of culture means that few of those we regard as stars are universally loved any more, says DJ Taylor