16/08/2011 02:28 BST | Updated 15/10/2011 06:12 BST

Police Need Riot Tactics Guidance, Theresa May Says

Last week’s riots have made the case for police reform “more urgent than ever”, Theresa May said in a speech on Tuesday.

May was adamant that police cuts could still go ahead but she said following the events she would ask for officers to be given more guidance on public order policing.

“The police need strong enforceable powers to help them deal with anti social behavior, criminality, gangs and disorder”, she said.

After a week when tension between officers and ministers in the wake of riots, May denied that asking questions about police tactics were an attack on officers, saying: "When we ask questions about the success of a policing operation or ask how we can make the police more effective, more efficient or more accountable to the public - this is not an attack on the men and women of the police.

"One thing is clear: the experience of the last 10 days makes the case for police reform more urgent than ever.”

The home secretary said she had written to her majesty’s chief inspectorate of constabulary, Sir Denis O'Connor, to ask for guidelines.

“Too often in the past the police have been damned if they do and damned if they don’t… As long as you act within reason and the law, I will never damn you if you do”, May promised police.

She said police could get more powers "to impose a general curfew in a particular area" as part of the response to the disorder.

The home secretary said police officers were owed “a debt of gratitude” for their role in calming the disorder that spread to cities across England.