American law enforcement guru Bill Bratton has been tapped to consult with British police on how to curb street violence by Prime Minister David Cameron's government.
Downing Street says Bratton -- former Chief of the LAPD, NYPD Commissioner, and Boston Police Commissioner -- has agreed to visit Britain in the coming months to give advice on tackling gang culture, in the wake of the mob rioting, arson and looting that has rocked English cities in recent days.
"The prime minister spoke to Bill Bratton today to thank him for agreeing to make himself available for a series of meetings in the UK in the autumn to share his experience of tackling gangs while police chief in Boston, New York and Los Angeles," a Downing Street spokeswoman said.
Bratton told NBC New York he expects to start work soon, but will not move overseas on a permanent basis. The post will, however, be long-term and will have a broader scope than just addressing the street riots that left five dead.
Bratton's policing style is influenced by the broken window theory that if minor, petty crime is not dealt with, crime will increase. Bratton told the British newspaper The Daily Telegraph that young thugs needed to fear both the police and the prospect of serious punishment.
"You want the criminal element to fear them, fear their ability to interrupt their own ability to carry out criminal behaviour, and arrest and prosecute and incarcerate them," the 63-year-old said.
"In my experience, the younger criminal element don't fear the police and have been emboldened to challenge the police and effectively take them on. Very early on in people's lives you have to have them understand that abhorrent behaviour, anti-social behaviour, will not be tolerated," he said.
Bratton was a key figure in imposing "zero tolerance" policing in New York to curb street violence.
"If you get things in their smaller stages, you prevent them from growing into larger problems, like weeding a garden," he said. He said police officers needed "a lot of arrows in the quiver" ready to use when tackling mobs.
"The current debate is about rubber bullets and non-lethal force like Tasers, pepper spray and water cannon," he said. "These are all various escalations in what would be described as non-lethal force, to meet a standing activity directed against the police."
Cameron last month raised the prospect of bringing foreigners into top police posts. Newspapers reported that Cameron was keen on bringing in Bratton to take over as Britain's police chief, but Home Secretary Theresa May ruled it out, saying the post had to go to a British national.