Chris Sims, chief constable of West Midlands Police, said that rioters in Birmingham had led difficult and 'tragic' lives, and should be dealt with in a 'pragmatic way'.
Speaking to councillors in the city he revealed that he had spoken to several youngsters arrested after last week's violent scenes.
He said: 'I spent Saturday evening in the custody block at Steelhouse Lane Police Station. There are tragic offenders as well as tragic victims.
'Young people who have been in care for most of their lives. We need to show some compassion and be pragmatic about how we deal with these people.'
Shopkeepers targeted by looters, however, disagree and want to see tough justice. Read More