Review of Riot Damages Act delayed, London Assembly hears

Streatham Guardian: House of Reeves was torched during the riots in Croydon House of Reeves was torched during the riots in Croydon

Reform of legalisation covering compensation for riot damage has stalled, the London Assembly Budget and Performance Committee were told last week.

Nearly seventeen months after the Home Office began its review of the Riot (Damages) Act 1886 after last Augusts riots, the department is now considering appointing an independent person to consult on the legislation changes.

The Director of Finance and Strategy Directorate for the Home Office Crime and Policing Group, Stephen Webb, told the Committee that discussions about reforming the Act have produced a range of contradictory views.

He said police forces argue they shouldn’t have to pay compensation for riots, while the insurance industry and others maintain that scrapping the act would penalise poor areas where alternative cover would be hard to find.

Speaking at the Committee's meeting to review progress on implementing recommendations from its report into recovering from the 2011 riots, Mr Webb said ministers were looking at who should be responsible for claims under the Act and when delays in getting compensation to victims occur.

John Biggs AM, Chair of the Budget and Performance Committee said:"It is disappointing to hear that nearly a year-and-a-half after problems with the Riot Damages Act were identified the Home Office is still some way from concluding its review.

"While this is an ancient and complicated piece of legislation it has real consequences for people whose lives are turned upside down by serious civil disturbances.

"It should not be beyond the wit of government to bring forward proposals to simplify how compensation is claimed.

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