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New proposals to reform Riot Damages Act

This was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

First person article from Policing Minister Damian Green outlining new proposals to reform Riot Damages Act.

Policing Minister - Damian Green

The riots that raged in London two years ago were utterly disgraceful.

The wanton criminality and looting would have been bad enough in any circumstances. But what was so astonishing and distressing for many of those caught up in the violence was that the rioters were targeting their very own.

Independant retailers

It wasn’t the big national chains who suffered the most during the riots – although they were targeted too – it was the newsagents in Tottenham High Road, the family-owned general store in Croydon, the independent retailers in Ealing and Hackney and other parts of the capital.

That is why we need to keep the Riot Damages Act. We need to ensure that we maintain a safety net for those with the most to lose, but the least to pay-out in insurance premiums.

Unprecedented scale

The unprecedented scale of the 2011 riots exposed failings in the Act and showed why it needed to be reformed. That’s why we brought in Neil Kinghan to review it. I can’t say at the moment whether everything he recommends will be introduced, but it’s clearly a thorough and detailed piece of work with sensible recommendations which will inform debate about the future of the legislation.

It highlights the antiquated nature of the Act recommending it is redrafted to include cars and other vehicles, which were not even invented in 1886.

The report recommends that in the event of widespread riots a ‘riots claims bureau’ staffed by loss adjusters and insurance experts should be set up to manage claims.

It also says riot compensation payments made in future should be made on a new-for-old basis rather than the current old-for-old approach.

Strive to improve

The scale of the violence also put a huge pressure on our ability to respond to the very severe financial strains suffered by those affected. Given the size of the task, the government, the Mayor’s Office and police and crime commissioners in other parts of the country did well. 95% of uninsured claims were settled within 12 months and to date, £36m has been paid out. There are still four very complex uninsured cases that remain outstanding.

But, clearly, the government must always strive to improve. And the recommendations in this report will help ensure we do so in the future.

Published 8 November 2013