Sickened by the vandalism and looting

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EVERY single constituent who has contacted me about the riots we have seen across the country has made the same point: there is simply no excuse for this behaviour, and it must be stopped.

I totally agree. We have all been sickened by the scenes of vandalism and looting. This has nothing to do with political protest or deprivation. It is criminality pure and simple.

The scenes of looting are appalling. But of all the dreadful images on televsion, one has stuck in my mind: that of two thugs robbing an injured boy while pretending to help him.

My constituents also want a more robust response from the police. Once again, they are right. Tough policing is necessary and justified.

I unequivocally reject the idea that spending cuts have contributed to what has happened. Law abiding and hard working people are equally affected by the need for the Government to make savings. They do not resort to violence or think that looting is acceptable.

The Prime Minister has made clear that the police will have whatever resources they need and the backing to deploy whatever tactics they judge necessary, including rubber bullets and water cannon. I totally understand the anger of the public, and especially those who have been put in fear, whose premises have been damaged and livelihoods threatened. They are right to expect protection.

The police tactics will be debated and examined. But this should not detract from the bravery of officers and other emergency workers on the frontline, many of whose leave has been cancelled. I pay tribute to them.

There have been hundreds of arrests and courts have sat through the night. The perpetrators must be brought to justice and their punishment must be severe. If necessary they must be locked up and the prison places will be provided.

There should be no hiding place for the hooded thugs. Offending should always have consequences. We cannot allow looters, vandals and arsonists to believe that they can get away with their actions.

They must feel the full force of the law.

As the Prime Minister said, we needed a fightback and a fightback has begun. We cannot and will not tolerate such lawlessness.

If you would like to get in touch with me, please write to me at the House of Commons, London SW1A 0AA, or email me at nick@nickherbert.com.

NICK HERBERT

MP for Arundel and South Downs and Minister of State for Policing and Criminal Justice

Horsham MP Francis Maude is away.