British rioters to clear up devastated communities

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Convicted rioters who went on the rampage in Britain will be set to work clearing up communities they devastated, Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg said Tuesday.

"In every single one of the communities affected there will be community payback schemes, riot payback schemes," Clegg told reporters in London.

Rioters would be compelled to wear orange clothing so they are clearly visible "making up the damage done, repairing and improving the neighbourhoods affected," he said.

The Liberal Democrat leader said people who took part in the four nights of violence might also be forced to face victims so they can see the human cost of their actions.

"I want them to face people like the woman I met on Monday last week in Tottenham, who said to me that she was still wearing the clothes... she was wearing when she ran out of her flat before her own flat was burned down," said Clegg.

Violence first erupted in Tottenham, north London, on August 6 before spreading across England for four nights in the worst riots for decades.

Reaching out to devastated communities, Clegg urged: "It is really important at a time like this that we should not allow hope and optimism to be suffocated by fear and pessimism."

He also announced an independent panel to hear from victims of the violence.

"It will serve as a way in which victims and communities can have their voice heard," Clegg told reporters in London.

The results of the listening process would be published in six to nine months, Clegg said, although it would not amount to the public inquiry into the riots which the opposition Labour party has called for.

Prime Minister David Cameron meanwhile visited Tottenham for the first time since violence erupted in the neighbourhood.

He toured a leisure centre being used to provide food and clothing for up to 200 people made homeless by fires started in the riots, and he met emergency service chiefs.

"It was an incredibly challenging situation, perhaps particularly here in Tottenham," Cameron said, and praised the "major effort at rebuilding."

© 2011 AFP

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