London Riot Footage Should Be Handed Over to Police: PM David Cameron

British Prime Minister David Cameron - London Riots - H - 2011
Stefan Rousseau/AFP/Getty Images

Cameron is also considering banning suspected rioters from social media.

LONDON – British Prime Minister David Cameron has called on broadcasters to hand over footage of the recent riots, looting and civil unrest that rocked London and swept across other English cities over to the police.

The prime minister said that broadcasters – including the BBC  and Sky News – have a responsibility to hand unused footage of the riots to police to help bring those involved to justice.

The BBC has previously strongly resisted handing over footage to the police standing by the claim that such an act would damage the broadcaster’s editorial independence.

He also told Thursday’s recalled Parliament the government is eyeing the possibility of banning people from using social networking sites such as Twitter and Facebook after the recent scenes rocking England.

Cameron told a packed House of Commons bans might be possible for those suspected of using such sights to plot criminal activity.

He said the government will review whether it is possible to stop suspected rioters spreading online messages, in his opening statement during an emergency Commons debate Thursday held in the wake of the shocking scenes of previous days of civil disorder in the British capital and beyond.

Cameron told the Commons that home secretary Theresa May will hold meetings with reps from Facebook, Twitter and Research In Motion within weeks to discuss their responsibilities in this area.

"Everyone watching these horrific actions will be struck by how they were organized via social media. Free flow of information can be used for good. But it can also be used for ill," said Cameron.

"And when people are using social media for violence we need to stop them. So we are working with the police, the intelligence services and industry to look at whether it would be right to stop people communicating via these websites and services when we know they are plotting violence, disorder and criminality."

He also noted rioters were using the Blackberry Messenger service provided by Research in Motion, a closed network, "to organize riots."

Said Cameron: "We've got to examine that and work out how to get ahead of them."

Research In Motion has previously pledged to assist in whatever way it can.

Scotland Yard has made a string of arrests of people suspected of inciting the violence across England by using BlackBerry Messenger, Twitter and Facebook.

Cameron urged Twitter and Facebook to remove messages, images and videos that could incite more unrest across the country. "All of them should think about their responsibility and about taking down those images," he said.

"There was an awful lot of hoaxes and false trails made on Twitter and BlackBerry Messenger and the rest of it. We need a major piece of work to make sure that the police have all the technological capabilities they need to hunt down and beat the criminals."