Cameron vows ‘uncompromising measures’

Haggard lawyers rushed around searching for clients or killed time waiting for paperwork Thursday at Westminster Magistrates Court in central London while bewildered defendants facing riot-related charges wondered about their fate. Inevitable delays interrupted proceedings as an overloaded court system attempted to cope with crowded basement cells and a constant stream of security vans carrying defendants mainly accused of offenses such as looting and violent behavior. “Chaos reigns downstairs,” one defense lawyer told presiding Judge Daphne Wickham. Another lawyer working around the clock, Julian Young, said law enforcement’s decision to mete out swift justice was “inefficient,” and “a knee-jerk reaction.” {{more}}Youths and first-time offenders held in custody and taken to a court at 5 in the morning could make inaccurate statements and overworked lawyers may well make mistakes, Young said in television interviews.

Westminster was among several courts in cities including London, Birmingham and Manchester dealing with similarly overwhelming workloads coming from the hundreds of arrests in connection with four nights of rioting in Britain that began Saturday. After a violence-free night Wednesday, communities and authorities were left surveying the damage as stricken cities attempted to get back to business and the judiciary and Parliament struggled to mete out law and order.

Facing a full house at an emergency meeting of Parliament on Thursday, British Prime Minister David Cameron promised “robust and uncompromising measures” in response to the riots.

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