Clegg warning to parents

A police van in Sheffield
A police van in Sheffield
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DEPUTY Prime Minister Nick Clegg has praised Sheffielders for steering clear of the lawless rioting which has wreaked havoc in other UK cities.

The MP for Sheffield Hallam said: “Thankfully, Sheffield has not seen the unacceptable rioting, violence and theft that has been witnessed in other cities.

“It is a testament to both South Yorkshire Police and the wider community that our streets have been peaceful at this difficult time.”

But, calling on all city parents to make sure they know where their children are at night, he added: “We must not be complacent.

“I have been in contact with Chief Constable Med Hughes and with community leaders in Sheffield and we must all keep repeating the same message.

“If anybody is even thinking of going out to commit crimes in Sheffield they should know they will be arrested and face the full force of the law.

“I ask parents in Sheffield to make sure they know where their children are tonight and in the coming nights as we work together to keep Sheffield safe.”

The Lib Dem leader suggested it could take weeks before calm is fully restored.

South Yorkshire’s Assistant Chief Constable Andy Holt said the lack of trouble in Sheffield was down to ‘the good sense and decency of people who live in the area’.

He said: “It’s due to parents making sure they know where their children are, and the hard work of police who are taking a tough stance and reacting quickly to keep the county safe.

“If youngsters engage in disorder they won’t just be wrecking their communities, but possibly blighting their lives. When you’re 14 or 15 maybe you don’t think that through, but I would urge parents to reinforce that message to their children.

“This is theft, robbery and burglary, to gain designer goods, the latest mobile phone or digital TV. Just because others are doing it does not make it right.

“We are not going to be dealing with disorder by way of fixed penalty notices. We will arrest people and put them before the courts for riots if necessary, which means they will not just go to Magistrates’ Court but Crown Court and hopefully will go to prison.

“We are very much taking a firm line.”

South Yorkshire Police Authority also praised the reaction of local communities and the planning of the county’s police force in helping to prevent trouble.

Coun Shaun Wright, vice-chairman of the authority, said: “The fact Sheffield and South Yorkshire have not seen any copycat acts is testament to the work of the police in this county.

“The planning and organisation of the police to prevent trouble during the last few days has been first class and something everyone in the county should be proud of.”

Chairman Charles Perryman added: “Together we have built confidence within our communities.”

Ass Chf Con Holt said officers are continuing to monitor social networking sites looking for messages about Sheffield - and quickly quashing false rumours before they have chance to spread, cause fear, or incite disturbance.

“It’s not acceptable to use social media to incite violence any more than it is to stand at the top of a hill with a megaphone,” he said. “I would urge people to use it sensibly, for good, and for what the technology is intended for.”