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UK Prime Minister Promises Help for Riot Victims

David Cameron condemned the recent riots in the UK as Parliament was recalled from its summer recess on Thursday, telling MPs in the House of Commons that the violence was "not about politics or protest."

David Cameron
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Anyone charged with violent disorder could expect to be remanded in custody and anyone found guilty should expect a prison sentence, he said.

The prime minister told lawmakers the "fight back has begun" and warned rioters: “We will track you down, we will find you, we will charge you, we will punish you. You will pay for what you have done.”

Cameron said good order was now being restored in London and that police officers had been given permission to use plastic bullets should they deem it necessary, adding water cannon remained available from Northern Ireland at 24 hours notice. However, he ruled out the need for an army presence. He also said the currently enhanced number of police officers on the streets of the British capital would remain until the weekend.

The prime minsiter anounced greater powers for police to impose curfews and for Britain's courts to impose tougher sentences. He also called for landlords to be given the power to evict any of their tennants in receipt of social security benefits, if they were found to have been involved in the rioting and looting that took place across the UK over four consecutive nights of violence.

Meanwhile, he announced the government would take immediate action to meet the emergency costs of those made homeless by the riots. He added homeowners and business owners who had been victims of the riots would be able to seek compensation through the Riot Damages Act whether their property was insured or not.

“We will help you repair the damage, get your businesses up and running and help you to restore your local communities,” the prime minister told the House of Commons.

Cameron also told MPs the Association of British Insurers (ABI), which has estimated the cost of the rioting at 200 million pounds ($323 million), had given him assurances that insurers would deal with all claims related to the riots as quickly as possible.

The prime minister also announced an amnesty for businesses from business rates and council tax payments while owners repaired the damage to their properties.

He also told MPs the government was setting up a new 20 million pound high street support scheme to help affected businesses get back up and running quickly. 

And the government would enable local authorities to grant business rate relief by funding at least three quarters of their costs and those homes and business that had been most badly damaged would be granted a reprieve from council tax as well.

The government would be providing a new £10 million pound recovery scheme to provide additional support to councils in making areas safe, clean and clear again, the prime minister added.

“I have said before that there is a major problem in our society with children growing up not knowing the difference between right and wrong,” the prime minister said.

“This is not about poverty, it’s about culture. A culture that glorifies violence, shows disrespect to authority, and says everything about rights but nothing about responsibilities, he added.

“In too many cases, the parents of these children – if they are still around – don’t care where their children are or who they are with, let alone what they are doing.”

Opposition party leader Ed Miliband however, called on the prime minister to reconsider cuts to police numbers already announced as part of the coalition government's public spending cuts and called for an parliamentary inquiry into the cause of the riots.