Labor official says British gov't hasn't helped 2011 riot victims

Jan. 4, 2014 at 3:55 PM
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LONDON, Jan. 4 (UPI) -- Britain's opposition party has criticized the government for failing to compensate victims of the 2011 London riots, officials said.

Steve Reed, the Labor party's shadow home minister, said documents obtained through a Freedom of Information request show Metropolitan Police in London have paid out less than 16 percent of the money requested in compensation by individuals and businesses following the riots, the BBC reported Saturday.

Britain's government maintains a taxpayer-backed fund to compensate for riot damage under legislation dating back to the 19th century.

"With the eyes of the country on him, [British Prime Minister] David Cameron promised the victims of the riots they would not be forgotten and would not be left out of pocket," Reed said. "It's disgraceful there are still residents and business owners in London facing financial hardship because they have received either too little compensation or nothing at all."

Reed said more than 130 people who have filed claims seeking repayment have yet to receive a penny.

Government officials dispute Reed's allegations, arguing only the most complicated requests for compensation remain unfulfilled -- and that a "vast majority" of those who sought government help have received it.

Police figures released in November showed claims made totaled $491 million. Of that, about $77 million had been paid with 133 claims still outstanding.

London was gripped by the worst rioting in a generation in 2011, with angry residents in Tottenham, a section of north London protesting when police shot and killed a father of four during an arrest. The discontent, which coincided with deep economic anxiety and high unemployment, quickly spread, leading to days of civil unrest, looting and vandalism.

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