Rioters Who Avoid Jail Could Still Lose Benefits, Iain Duncan Smith Warns
PRESS ASSOCIATION -- People convicted of being involved in last week's riots could lose their benefits even if they do not receive a custodial sentence, a Government minister has said.
Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith explained that under existing rules anyone who is jailed for an offence loses their handouts, but he is considering ways to extend this.
He told BBC Breakfast: "I am at the moment looking to see whether or not someone who's convicted of a criminal offence but not custodial, that we would be able to impose a similar process on them as well, that they would lose their benefits for a particular period of time relevant to that process.
"I'm inclined to believe that it's better if it's done through the judiciary rather than done straight by the Department itself."
Mr Duncan Smith said his reported pledge to make gang leaders' lives "hell" in the wake of the unrest which swept across the country last week was a "narrow interpretation".
He previously authored a report on how to tackle gangs, which he said concluded "you cannot arrest your way out of the street gang problem that we have".
Instead there needs to be a wider solution using education to "rescue" children who are vulnerable to becoming gang members, in a co-ordinated effort.
Mr Duncan Smith said: "When you crack down in one area and start to try this process of getting the kids out of the gangs, all that happens is you often displace them into other areas and then they just go on as they are. It needs to happen everywhere at the same time."
He said much of the recent rioting was "initiated by gangs", but that other people then got swept up by the mob and broke the law.
"A lot of them got swept up in what I call crowd mentality and lost their own moral compass. They just saw shops, they robbed them, sometimes they started smashing windows, throwing bricks at police, got caught up in a mob culture.
"They should know the difference between right and wrong, they shouldn't have done it, but that's the reason why many of them were caught up and they will face now the full penalties of the law."