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Page last updated at 08:42 GMT, Tuesday, 6 September 2011 09:42 UK

IDS: 'No-one is beyond help'

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What caused last month's riots? The Today programme held a public meeting in Birmingham Town Hall last night to try and find answers to that question.

Interviewed by presenter James Naughtie, who chaired the debate, Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith presented his assessment of the state of society, and how the government will respond to the deep-rooted issues raised by the disorder.

He explained that "When it comes to things like withdrawal of benefits, I think it's important for us to look carefully to see whether or not the consequences of that will have a positive effect... we're looking at that at the moment."

Moving on to the judicial system, he said that "if all we do is punish people and arrest them, than that alone will not do what we need to do."

Responding to Justice Secretary Ken Clarke's claim that the penal system was "broken", he said "I agree with Ken that...what we have is a system that had been far too often a reactive system, and what it has to recognise is once you arrest somebody as a deterrent and you punish them... you have to do something with them... The re-offending rates in the UK are ludicrous."

He added that 'no-one is beyond help... I have always believed in the notion of a second chance."

Finally, on the issue of income inequality he said "we have to encourage the wealth creators but also recognise that they bear responsibility for their actions."


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