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Page last updated at 07:53 GMT, Monday, 15 August 2011 08:53 UK

IDS: Rioters could lose benefits

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The Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith has revealed that he is considering ways to extend the rules on benefits so that anyone who is jailed for an offence loses their handouts.

"We already have conditionality in the system, we already accept that if people who are receiving benefits do not, are not prepared to seek work, take the work that's available to them, we take the benefit off them. And if you go to prison we take your benefit off you." he told Today presenter James Naughtie.

"What we're looking at is, for criminal charges, should we take the benefit? And the answer is 'yes', how would we do that, off individuals who got swept up in criminal behaviour?

"I think most people out there would recognise that the first lesson you learn is that, when you do something willingly and you set out to do it that is criminal, then you must bear the consequences of what you do, that's almost number one in the concept of right and wrong.

Mr Duncan Smith, who is leading Mr Cameron's task force on gangs, added that that the authorities have to take a more co-ordinated approach to tackling gang-related crime.

"You cannot arrest your way out of this problem," he explained, adding that police swoops on gangs were not decisive enough.

"We know what works, but we don't do it everywhere... This is forever, you never let them rise again."

He said that during last week's riots, "people suspended any concept of their moral guidance" and suggested the solution was a long-term programme, intervening very earlier to wean people away from an "inverted society" in which people do not recognise any moral authority.

"Changing the structure of society is a slow and long process, but it is critical if… we are going to have a more balanced and stable society."

His comments came as David Cameron is set to promise a "social fightback" in response to the widespread rioting and looting in England last week.

In a speech today, the prime minister will say the violence was the result of problems that have festered for decades and have now exploded and will announce a review of a wide range of government policy, including schools, parenting and welfare.


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