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Cameron vows to mend broken Britain

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Cameron vows to mend broken Britain

Prime Minister aims to change policy after riots

  • British Prime Minister David Cameron.
    The Prime Minister's Office/FlickrBritish Prime Minister David Cameron.

British Prime Minister David Cameron promised Monday to overhaul government policy to tackle a "slow-motion moral collapse" which he said lay at the heart of last week's deadly riots.

In a much anticipated speech to youths in his well-off constituency of Witney, the conservative leader also vowed to wage "all-out war" against street gangs involved in the worst public unrest Britain has seen for decades.

The core of the strategy, which would be reviewed and fine-tuned in coming weeks, involved improving the lives of 120,000 trouble-making families the government believed were responsible for the lion's share of social disorder.

Cameron said the world had seen the "worst of the British people" during four days of rioting, looting and arson that erupted in London and spread to the East and West Midlands, Merseyside, Bristol, Manchester and Gloucester, the BBC reported.

"The broken society is back at the top of my agenda," he said, reviving an election promise that had been pushed down the list of government priorities as it dealt with a struggling economy and tough austerity measures.

"Stamping out these gangs should be a new national priority," he added, describing gangs as a "major criminal disease that has infected streets and estates across our country."

He said he would cast aside the "moral neutrality" which for too long had stifled debate about rights and wrongs in society, and questioned whether lawmakers had "the determination to confront the slow-motion moral collapse that has taken place in parts of our country these past few generations."

Cameron echoed opposition leader Ed Miliband in drawing a link between the street unrest and wrong doings among supposedly respectable members of the establishment, from banking and parliament to newspaper editors, the Guardian reported.

Almost 2,800 people have been arrested across England in relation to the riots that left five people dead, the BBC reported. Of these, more than 1,400 have been charged.

Cameron's office confirmed over the weekend that William Bratton, a former New York and Los Angeles police chief, had agreed to consult with British law enforcement on gang violence and unrest.

In addition to policing measures, Cameron said programs to reform anti-social families needed extra funds and resources.

Many of the rioters had grown up without fathers or male role models, he said, noting that judges had asked why parents of teenagers charged over the mayhem had not appeared in court with their children.

"The question people asked over and over again last week was ‘where are the parents?'" he said, according to The Telegraph.

"Well, join the dots and you have a clear idea about why some of these young people were behaving so terribly. Either there was no one at home, they didn’t much care or they’d lost control."

This article originally appeared on GlobalPost.

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