Police charge teenager with London riots murder

August 16, 2011 3:10:00 AM PDT
British police have charged a 16-year-old boy with murdering a retiree who was attacked by rioters in London last week, as the government said officers needed clearer instructions on how to deal with disturbances.

The boy, who can't be named because of his age, is accused of killing 68-year-old Richard Bowes, who was found lying in a street during riots in Ealing, west London, on Aug. 8. He died of head injuries three days later.

The boy's mother has been charged with obstructing the police investigation.

The suspect is due to appear in a London youth court Tuesday.

Five people died during violence that ravaged English cities last week, including three men hit by a car in Birmingham, central England, as they protected local shops from looters. Two men and a teenage boy have been charged with murdering Haroon Jahan, 20, and brothers Shazad Ali, 30, and Abdul Musavir, 31.

Several suspects have been questioned about the death of a man who was shot in the head during rioting in south London.

Across the country, some 3,000 people have been arrested and about 1,400 of those charged with riot-related offenses.

Courts opened around-the-clock for several days to deal with the flood of suspects.

Rioting began in London Aug. 6 and spread to several other English cities. Police were criticized for responding too slowly, particularly in London, but eventually deployed huge numbers of officers at riot zones to quell the mayhem.

Police said they would keep up an expanded presence on the streets of London over the coming days, although the force didn't give a detailed breakdown. Scotland Yard said many of the additional officers would be assigned to hunt those involved in the riots.

Home Secretary Theresa May was making a speech on the riots later Tuesday, arguing that police forces need clearer guidance on how to tackle riots.

Many senior police officers feel stung by government criticism of their handling of the riots, and oppose plans to slash police budgets as part of sweeping austerity measures.

On Monday Prime Minister David Cameron pledged to deliver a raft of new policies aimed at reversing the "slow-motion moral collapse" which he blamed for fostering the disorder.

Cameron insisted that racial tensions, poverty and the government's austerity measures -- much of which have yet to bite -- were not the primary causes of the riots across London and other major cities.

Instead, Cameron pointed to gang-related crime, and a widespread failure from Britain's leaders to address deep rooted social issues, including the country's generous welfare system.

Cameron pledged to end a culture of timidity in discussing family breakdown or poor parenting, or in criticizing those who fail to set a good example to their children or community.

"We have been too unwilling for too long to talk about what is right and what is wrong," Cameron said. "We have too often avoided saying what needs to be said, about everything from marriage to welfare to common courtesy."

The Association of British Insurers has estimated the cost from wrecked and stolen property at 200 million pounds ($326 million) but expects the total to rise.

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