Due to 1886 Law, UK Police to Foot Bill for Riot Damage

Riots expected to cost police authorities upwards of $320M
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 10, 2011 6:20 AM CDT
Police to Foot Bill for UK Riot Damage
Birmingham's police authority will be picking up the tab for these looted goods.   (AP Photo/Tim Hales)

As the dust settles from days of rioting in London and other English cities, it turns out that police finances may have suffered the heaviest damage of all. An 1886 law specifies that police authorities are required to compensate victims when damage is caused by people "riotously and tumultuously assembled" and insurance companies have made it clear that they plan to make the maximum possible claims against the police, the Guardian reports.

Insurance companies believe that their customers' damage claims will top $160 million, while claims from uninsured families and businesses could cost police authorities another $160 million, reports the Daily Mail. "The theory is that the police are responsible for keeping law and order and, if they fail, they pay for the damage, " an analyst tells Reuters, noting that, unsurprisingly, that "when the police are under financial strain themselves, there are bound to be calls to revisit this whole area of the law." London police, funded by taxpayers, currently have some $115 million in reserves. (Read more London riots stories.)

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