Press release: New ‘common sense’ guidance will help fire service tackle riots better

The government has today (12 July, 2013) published new common sense guidance for firefighters enabling them to operate more effectively and safely during riots or periods of civil unrest.

The updated guidance stresses the importance of training, and recognises how careful liaison with the police can help firefighters respond in a way that supports public safety. It updates the guidance for the 21st century, encouraging the fire service to get online and make full use of social media to gather intelligence, inform and update the public about ongoing events.

The update comes on the same day as the government publishes its formal response to the final report of the Riots, Communities and Victims Panel After the Riots (PDF, 4.85MB) published on 28 March 2012.

The response brings together information on how the actions of central government, local authorities, public agencies as well as the general public all contributed, and continues, to rebuilding the communities affected by the riots in August 2011.

In the immediate aftermath the government acted swiftly to give vital support to individuals, local businesses and councils. Today’s response acknowledges the local communities who acted swiftly to get their local areas back to normal. It also praises the many neighbours and volunteers who gave their time and energy in a variety of ways in support of that effort - through cleaning up the streets, making donations to local victims, and the employees who got their shops trading again.

It also acknowledges the importance of the government’s Troubled Families programme as an integral part of the government’s ongoing work to reduce crime and reoffending; support families; improve the education of our young people; tackle unemployment; and build stronger, more resilient communities.

Local Government Minister Brandon Lewis said:

I hope we never see a repeat of the scenes we all witnessed in August 2011, but we all have a collective responsibility to learn the lessons, catalogued in our response, from those shocking events.

Today’s common sense guidance does just that – it will help our brave firefighters get the balance right between protecting people’s property and lives, and ensuring the safety of firefighters that get called out to complex and often difficult situations.

The response also acknowledged the government action that will:

  • extend the Troubled Families programme through a plan to reach over half a million families. It is already targeting 120,000 families to tackle truancy, youth crime, anti-social behaviour and worklessness. The 2013 Spending Review announced it will be extended in 2015 to 2016 with a further investment of £200 million from across central government to start work with 400,000 more families over 5 years
  • bring about plans to make justice swifter; to bring home to offenders the consequences of their behaviour; and to ensure the system is made more transparent to communities, enabling them to effectively hold services to account
  • reduce this kind of reoffending as a government priority. Many rioters were repeat offenders so the government is making sentences in the community more robust to ensure that they are both effective at tackling reoffending and providing tangible punishment; proposals also focus on reparation and restorative justice
  • supporting affected areas to improve their partnership response to the challenges of gangs and youth violence. Through the Ending Gang and Youth Violence programme a team of practitioners with experience of dealing with gang and youth violence is already working with 33 priority areas across the country
  • provide young people with the right education and skills so they feel a greater a sense of purpose and a stake in society. The government is spending £7.3 billion in 2012 to 2013 and £7.4 billion in 2013 to 2014 on education and training places for 16 to 18 year olds
  • give unemployed 18 to 24 year olds additional Jobcentre Plus support through the new Youth Contract, which includes an extra 250,000 work experience or sector-based work academy places over the next 3 years. In addition, 160,000 wage incentives are being provided to encourage employers to recruit young people from the Work Programme or from Jobcentre Plus
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