British Prime Minister David Cameron's office confirmed over the weekend that William Bratton, a former New York and Los Angeles police chief, had agreed to consult with British law enforcement on gang violence and social unrest after the riots that roiled London and other English cities earlier in the week. The announcement rankled some of the British police forces, according to the Los Angeles Times.
Bratton, who held private talks with Cameron on Friday, said there were lessons from the U.S. that could be applicable to the situation in England.
Bratton advocates "community policing," an approach that includes having police officers on the streets who are immersed in people’s daily lives rather than using them only in response to specific events, the New York Times reported.
He said that some strategies that have worked in the U.S., such as making police forces more ethnically diverse, could also be useful in the U.K., the Guardian reported. He also said that British police should emphasize calming racial tensions by working closely with community leaders and civil rights groups
Bratton, who is credited with restoring order in Los Angeles after riots in 1992, said, "You can't arrest your way out of the problem," according to BBC News, which cited U.S. broadcaster ABC:
"Arrest is certainly appropriate for the most violent, the incorrigible, but so much of it can be addressed in other ways and it's not just a police issue, it is in fact a societal issue."
A beefed up police presence was on the streets over the weekend following widespread rioting and looting in London and other cities in England during the week, according to CNN.
Bratton's expertise and success in tackling U.S. crime and gang culture hasn't been questioned, but there was discontent about Cameron's decision to seek advice from an outsider among the English police ranks, the Los Angeles Times said:
Sobhan Sagar, a detective inspector from London's police, said: "We just feel that it's a sad indictment of what the government think of our senior officers in this country. They do have decades of experience of policing in this country and understand the U.K. law fully."
Bill Brereton, a former deputy chief constable of North Wales Police, told BBC Wales: "I don't think Bill Bratton has got the answers for us."
"These things happen. It falls to the police to pick up the pieces. Police don't run communities, police pick up the pieces afterwards."
He conceded that Britain could glean valuable lessons from other countries' experiences. But, he continued:
"I'm not convinced that the American model is as persuasive as some believe."
And he pointed his finger at politicians, as well, telling BBC Wales:
"If we are getting chief police officers from elsewhere to come over, let's get politicians from elsewhere to come over and tell our politicians how to do it, because I think it's the politicians that are failing, not the policing," he said.
Bratton is currently chairman of Kroll, an international private security firm, the New York Times reported. He was New York City’s police commissioner for 27 months from 1994 to 1996, and later was chief of the Los Angeles police force for almost seven years, ending in November 2009.
Some of Bratton's successes in fighting crime relied on big increases in resources, which contrasts with Cameron saying he intends to stick to planned cuts in U.K. police budgets, BBC News said.