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Last Updated: Monday, 9 June, 2003, 13:52 GMT 14:52 UK
Tougher laws for rioters
Interface areas of Belfast were hit by regular rioting last summer
Rioters could face up to a year in jail under new laws
People suspected of being involved in rioting face tougher penalties under new laws being introduced this week.

Northern Ireland Secretary Paul Murphy said the new legislation will allow the police to arrest someone suspected of riotous behaviour without first obtaining a warrant.

The maximum sentence for the offence will increase from six months to a year.

New sanctions are also being introduced against those offenders who break the conditions of their bail.

Mr Murphy said the measures were a "firm but proportionate response to behaviour that is both destructive and dangerous".

He said: "Rioting is unacceptable and cannot be tolerated on our streets. It is vital that the police and courts have the powers they need to deal effectively with offenders."

The government said in the past when disturbances had taken place, it had proven impractical to require police to obtain a warrant.

The new legislation will leave people failing to surrender themselves to custody facing up to three months in jail and a fine of 5,000.

Police will also be allowed to arrest people who breach bail conditions such as someone who breaks an order barring them from a sectarian flashpoint area.

Mr Murphy said: "These new measures will deter people on bail from getting involved in riotous behaviour and other unlawful activities.

"People on bail who fail to report as required are wasting the time and resources of the courts and police and these new provisions will help them enforce the law more effectively."

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