British Prime Minister Asks For American Help In Fighting Crime

VIDEO: Police attempt to restore order, and try to find meaning in the mayhem.
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British Prime Minister David Cameron again today strongly signaled his intent to bring in former New York City Police Commissioner Bill Bratton to help reshape Scotland Yard.

In an address to Parliament that followed days of violent unrest in Britain's cities, and in which he vowed to track down and punish rioters, Cameron made clear his determination to search globally for the expertise needed to solve the crisis in British policing.

"I believe we should be looking beyond our shores to learn the lesson from others who have faced similar problems," said Cameron. "That is why I will be discussing how we can go further in coming to grips with gangs with people like Bill Bratton."

Cameron said that street gangs are at "the heart of all the violence" that has wracked Britain since the weekend. Riots that began in the north London neighborhood Tottenham had spread far from London, to such cities as Manchester and Birmingham by mid week.

"I want us to use the record of success against gangs some cities like Boston in the U.S.A. [have experienced]," said Cameron. Before he became police commissioner in New York, and later chief of the Los Angeles Police Department, Bratton was the top cop in Boston.

Bratton, a Boston native, was commissioner in Boston from 1991 to 1994 where he implemented the Neighborhood Policing project to curb youth violence.

Under New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, Bratton launched a "zero tolerance" crackdown on crime widely credited with restoring quality of life to New York and beginning crime's downward reduction. There he took guns off the streets and cleared a backlog of felons who were hiding in plain sight despite arrest warrants.

In Los Angeles Bratton faced down tough gang problems in troubled ghetto areas. His innovative "compstat" management strategy forced complacent cop bosses to be accountable for crime in their districts. It has been widely copied across the United States.

British Only Need Apply

ABC News has learned that Cameron's public suggestion that the government seek outside advisers is an attempt to circumvent Home Secretary Theresa May's determination not to change the requirement calling for a British citizen to be the next head of the Metropolitan Police, also known as Scotland Yard.

May has very publicly countered the Prime Minister, who had suggested an outsider be brought in to run the troubled department. When May's office posted ads seeking candidates for the post of Met boss, the ads noted that only British citizens need apply.

While May's reputation has suffered as a result of her perceived poor oversight of the Met, it currently appears there will be no move to push her out of government. May has no background in policing or police oversight, which is a significant part of her portfolio.

It was not immediately clear whether London Mayor Boris Johnson -- who has a say in who might lead the 31,000 officer department -- is aligned with Cameron's thinking. Johnson is up for re-election in 2012.

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