PM accused over police riot costs

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The Independent Online

Police have been abandoned by the Government as forces struggle with unprecedented costs from the summer riots, shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper said today.

She called on the Prime Minister to end his "stony silence" surrounding spending cuts as she met officers and locals at one of many areas hit by mass looting and violence last month.

Scotland Yard is expected to have spent more on policing the riots than it spent on all major public order events in the capital last year, with costs soaring beyond £34 million.

Talking to local residents in Clapham, south London, Ms Cooper said ministers were backing away from their pledge to meet extra policing costs associated with the disturbances.

Ms Cooper said: "It is shocking that at a time like this the Prime Minister and the Home Secretary are leaving police forces across the country in limbo, seriously concerned that the cuts they are already struggling with have been made even worse."

Officers "did an incredible job" on the streets this summer, she said.

"But now when the Metropolitan Police has a minimum £34 million bill in extra policing costs, at a time when they are already set to lose nearly 2,000 officers, the Government has abandoned them," Ms Cooper added.

"We contacted the Home Secretary two weeks ago to ask if the Prime Minister's pledge to 'stand behind' the extra costs for police forces was going to be met, but the only response has been stony silence.

"The Prime Minister needs to keep his promise and overrule the Home Secretary. The police need to know they have the resources and backing to keep the streets safe both now and in future months.

"David Cameron must urgently clarify where forces stand, and reopen the police spending review which is currently resulting in the loss of over 16,000 officers nationwide."

More than 1,500 people have now appeared in court over the riots, Ministry of Justice figures showed.

One in five (22%) of those before the courts were youths, aged 10 to 17, and nine in 10 (91%) were male.

Two in three have been remanded in custody, compared with an average of one in 10 who were charged with serious offences in 2010. The remaining 443 have been granted bail, the MoJ figures showed.

Most of the charges (1,027) have been made in the capital, while 190 have appeared before courts in Greater Manchester, 132 in the West Midlands, 67 in Merseyside and 64 in Nottingham.

The offences include burglary, theft and handling, violence and violent disorder offences.

Later, Home Secretary Theresa May said: "The Government has made clear that it will support the police.

"There is already an established system of special grants in place to support forces where they face unexpected or exceptional costs.

"It is up to individual forces if they wish to apply for a special grant and all applications will be considered."