Police Deploy in Force to Stop U.K. Riots; Commons Recalled
Police deployed extra forces on the streets of London to prevent a fourth night of unrest after 563 people were arrested in Britain’s worst rioting since the 1980s. Prime Minister David Cameron recalled Parliament.
The prime minister, speaking outside his Downing Street office in London after a meeting with ministers and security chiefs, said there will be 16,000 officers on duty in London tonight, up from 6,000 last night. Police leave was canceled and Metropolitan Police Deputy Assistant Commissioner Stephen Kavanagh said the London force was preparing for “mass disorder again tonight.” The House of Commons will meet in emergency session on Aug. 11.
“I’m determined, the government is determined, that justice will be done,” Cameron said. “This is criminality pure and simple, and it has to be confronted and defeated.”
Cameron cut short his Italian vacation to deal with the violence in which gasoline bombs have been thrown and vehicles, homes and businesses torched. Kavanagh said police would consider using all the tactics and equipment available, including rubber bullets. Armored vehicles were used for the first time in London last night, when the violence spread to other cities.
Violence in Manchester
The focus of violence tonight switched to the northwestern English city of Manchester. Rioters set fire to a property in Salford, west of the center, and Miss Selfridge, a clothing retailer in the main shopping area, Greater Manchester Police said. Television pictures showed shop windows smashed and small groups of people being confronted by police.
Police said they made 15 arrests, including one man on suspicion of using Facebook Inc.’s social networking site to incite disorder.
West Midlands Police said this evening it was dealing with small-scale unrest in the center of Birmingham and in Wolverhampton and West Bromwich, with some stores broken into and cars set on fire.
Stores in some parts of London and other cities closed early today. John Lewis Plc, the country’s largest department- store operator, said it shut shops in Liverpool and Swindon earlier than usual.
The unrest began on Aug. 6 in the north London suburb of Tottenham, after a local black man, Mark Duggan, was shot and killed by police who stopped his car intending to make an arrest. The area has one of the biggest concentrations of black people in the country.
Rioting and looting have since spread across London, with police describing it as “copycat criminal activity” and political leaders saying there is no link to the shooting. Some of the areas hit, such as Tottenham, are among London’s poorest, though others are not.
Cameron’s government has embarked on the biggest cuts to public spending, including welfare and on the police, since World War II to bring down the budget deficit, though most of these have yet to take effect.
The claimant-count unemployment rate for Londoners aged 16-24 was 5.4 percent in June, according to Office for National Statistics data. That’s down from a peak during the recession of 6.6 percent in September 2009 and a 1993 high of 14.2 percent.
BlackBerry smartphone maker Research in Motion Ltd. (RIM) said it is helping police probe reports the company’s messaging service was being used by rioters to plan the disturbances.
Some 105 people have been charged in London, police said today, including at least 63 with burglary, five with handling stolen goods, two with assault on police and four with possession of offensive weapons.
Though student-led protests against increases in university tuition fees descended into unrest last year, this week’s rioting has been the worst in London since at least 1985, when violence broke out in Tottenham in the north of the city and Brixton in the south after the deaths of black women during police searches.
Insurers face a bill of “well over” 100 million pounds ($162 million), Nick Starling, director of general insurance at the Association of British Insurers, said in an e-mailed statement.
U.K. stocks rose as investors awaited the outcome of today’s U.S. Federal Reserve meeting. The FTSE 100 Index (UKX) closed up 1.9 percent at 5,164.92 in London after earlier plunging as much as 5.5 percent. The pound declined against the euro and the dollar.
The unrest closed about 200 bank branches across London today, according to an estimate compiled by the British Bankers’ Association.
The violence comes a year before London stages the 2012 Olympic Games and at a time when the capital is seeking a new chief of police. Commissioner Paul Stephenson quit last month as a scandal over phone-hacking at News Corp.’s now defunct News of the World newspaper escalated. Parliament’s vacation was delayed last month so lawmakers could discuss phone-hacking.
A statement from the Metropolitan Police Service reported “serious outbreaks of disorder” last night in a number of London’s 32 boroughs, including Hackney in the northeast, Newham in the east, Ealing in the west and Lewisham and Croydon in the south. “Last night was the worst the MPS has seen in current memory for unacceptable levels of widespread looting, fires and disorder,” it said.
A 26-year-old man shot in his car in Croydon last night died in the hospital, the police said at today’s press conference. Children as young as 11 were arrested for looting, Kavanagh told reporters.
“People should be in no doubt that we will do everything necessary to restore order to Britain’s streets and make them safe for the law-abiding,” Cameron said.
Tomorrow’s exhibition soccer game between England and the Netherlands at Wembley Stadium in northwest London has been postponed, England’s Football Association said in a statement. “We do not need the additional burden of a crowd of 80,000 people on our streets tomorrow,” the police said in a statement.
Tim Godwin, the acting police commissioner, said there were no plans to bring the Army in to assist with quelling the riots, as he urged parents to keep their children indoors tonight.
“We will be very robustly policing,” he told reporters. “We will pursue each and every one that’s involved. There were far too many young people on the streets of London last night, in places which were both dangerous and violent.”
The Metropolitan Police said on its Twitter Inc. feed that between 400 and 500 officers are investigating the riots. Police are posting pictures of suspects and requesting that the public alert them to messages boasting about looting.
London Mayor Boris Johnson broke off his vacation in North America and toured the Clapham Junction area in southwest London today, encouraging groups of locals who gathered to clear up the damage. Cameron also visited districts hit by the unrest.
The Independent Police Complaints Commission, which is investigating the Aug. 6 Tottenham shooting, said in a statement today that there was “no evidence” that a non-police handgun found at the scene was fired during the incident.
Cameron will preside over another meeting of the government’s COBR emergency committee to discuss developments at 9 a.m. tomorrow.
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