Riots August Hackney
MPs have criticised the police response to the August riots in England as "flawed". REUTERS/Luke MacGregor

The police response to the August riots across England was flawed but the police do not need more powers to deal with civil disturbances, says a group of MPs in a highly critical report.

The Home Affairs Select Committee report, "Policing Large Scale Disorder: Lessons from the disturbances of August 2011", said: "We cannot recommend any increase in police powers as a result of the August disturbances without seeing specific evidence of a need for such powers and none came our way during this inquiry."

After interviewing senior police officers, MPs on the committee criticised the time it took to deploy a large number of officers on the streets, a move that eventually stopped the disorder.

"If numbers could have been increased more rapidly, it is possible that some of the disturbances could have been avoided," said the report.

"We regret that this did not happen and, with the benefit of hindsight, we regard the operation to police the disorder in many towns and cities, and particularly in London, as flawed."

Using baton rounds and water cannons to quell the violence, as some observers urged, would have been "inappropriate as well as dangerous", the report added.

The Metropolitan Police said that it had already acknowledged that its response was not quick enough. "As a result we have changed our mobilisation plans," said a Met spokesman.

"We are reviewing our engagement processes to ensure that we are talking with a wide range of people who can represent their local communities."

Pictures of 213 people most wanted by the Metropolitan Police in connection with the riots in London were released on December 14

"The disorder, violence and common criminality we saw in London and other parts of England at the start of August was totally unacceptable," said a spokeswoman for the Home Office.

"It is clear that the immediate police response was not enough. That is why HMIC [the police inspectorate] are conducting an independent review of police tactics during the disorder to ensure that we have a rounded picture of events and that lessons are learnt."

The inspectorate will consider the recommendations of the select committee alongside the HMIC review and the reviews conducted by the relevant forces, she said.

John Graham, director of the Police Foundation, said there needed to be more accountability of police officers to restore trust with communities and help prevent more disorder.