Coalition ministers condemned over 'insulting' response to riots report

Reaction to independent panel's findings on unrest in 2011 criticised as being 'appalling and totally inadequate'

The government was accused of insulting the memory of the five people who lost their lives during the summer riots two years ago by burying a half-hearted response to the independent report of the panel on riots victims and communities.

David Lammy, the Labour MP for Tottenham, where the unrest initially developed, said the response was "appalling and totally inadequate".

The panel was set up by David Cameron and Nick Clegg in response to four days of riots, as well as pressure from the Labour leader, Ed Miliband, who had been calling for a judge-led independent inquiry. It reported in March 2012 with 63 specific recommendations.

The final coalition response was published a fortnight ago without any accompanying press release. No attempt is made in the government response to address any of the specific recommendations made by the panel.

Speaking on BBC's World This Weekend, Lammy said the coalition response to the riots that had gripped British cities deserved a debate in the Commons and suggested that members of the panel, as well as Miliband, did not even know the response to their inquiry had been published.

The bland response largely provides a checklist, explaining programmes the government already has under way, such as the Pupil Premium, the Troubled Families Programme, City Deals, the Youth Contracts for the young unemployed, police reform, alcohol minimum prices and Nurse Family Partnerships.

The coalition response concluded: "Through our programme of action on reducing crime and reoffending, supporting families, improving the education of our young people and tackling unemployment we are helping to build stronger, more resilient places."

At no point does it attempt to directly address the recommendations or say if they are being accepted or rejected.

Lammy said: "When you look at the report, 39 of the 63 recommendations have not even been addressed at all. It's an insult to the five people that lost their lives. It is an insult to the many, many ordinary people that lost their shops, lost their homes and lost their buildings.

"The public saw four days of burning in cities as far afield as London, Birmingham and Manchester, and the government has not been prepared to explain why it is not prepared to accept the recommendations of its own inquiry. It is in unacceptable, and frankly unprecedented in this country."

Lammy said the government had made no response to a host of specific recommendations made by the panel, including data sharing between local councils, pupil referral units, restorative justice and character building in schools.

The communities minister, Don Foster, said what was important was the government's action in this area, rather than whether it was seeking publicity for it.

He added that the government provided £190m through schemes to get high streets going, and had introduced tougher knife crime punishments and street dance programmes to get females out of gangs.


Patrick Wintour, political editor

The GuardianTramp

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