10 Aug 2011

London quiet after days of riots

10:59 pm on 10 August 2011

London remained largely quiet on Wednesday with a heavy police presence on the streets following days of rioting.

About 16,000 officers have been deployed on the streets of the capital - six times the usual number - to prevent a fourth night of disorder.

Police now have access to baton rounds - plastic bullets never before used on Britain's mainland. But Prime Minister David Cameron has rejected calls for tougher measures such as tear gas and water canons.

Mr Cameron promised tough action against the rioters and looters, saying anyone convicted of disorder should be sent to prison and the government will take eery action to restore order to the streets.

Parts of the city resembled a war zone with shops looted, businesses burned to the ground and streets littered with barricades.

Hooded and masked youths ransacked and burnt their way from the western suburb of Ealing to the inner-city districts of Peckham and Hackney.

The BBC reports that, to date, at least 560 people have been arrested and 105 charged in connection with violence in the capital.

Some 111 police officers have suffered injuries including serious head and eye wounds, cuts and fractured bones after being attacked by rioters wielding bottles, planks, bricks and even driving cars at them. At least 14 members of the public were also injured

A murder inquiry has begun after a man was found shot in his car in the south London borough of Croydon.

As the violence continued throughout the country, police launched another murder investigation in Birmingham after three Muslim men died after being hit by a car. It is believed they were trying to protect their community from looters.

The first 32 people arrested in connection with the London violence have appeared in court charged with offences such as burglary and criminal damage.

British police have released also what they say will be the first of many closed circuit television footage of rioting suspects and the president of the Association of Chief Police Officers, Sir Hugh Orde, says officers are already trawling through CCTV images to catch those involved.

Meanwhile, sales of baseball bats and batons have shot up more than 5000% in a day on Amazon's British website.

Clean-up begins

Londoners have taken to the streets armed with broomsticks and plastic bags, as they attempt to clean up the capital.

Residents from all over the city flocked to designated meeting points after information about the clean-ups went viral on social media sites including Twitter.

London mayor Boris Johnson went out on the streets in the affected areas and applauded the residents' efforts, telling them:

"You are the true spirit of this city, you represent the people of this city and not the looters and thugs who did so much damage to London business last night."

People responded by repeatedly chanting: "Where's your broom?"

Politicians criticised over time taken

Prime Minister David Cameron had a message for rioters, saying they would face the full force of the law and if they were old enough to be prosecuted, they would be.

Mr Cameron said they were not only wrecking the lives of others, but potentially wrecking their own lives too.

The Prime Minister has recalled Parliament on Thursday to discuss the crisis, but Radio New Zealand's London correspondent Olly Barrat says people are angry at the slow reaction to the riots by the country's top politicians.

He told Morning Report many residents believe David Cameron and Boris Johnston stayed on holiday too long when they should have been sorting out the crisis.

Tottenham shooting inquest

The riots began on Saturday after a fatal shooting by police of a man by police in Tottenham last Thursday.

Reports initially suggested Mark Duggan, 29, had shot at police.

However, the Independent Police Complaints Commission investigating the fatal shooting says there is no evidence a handgun retrieved at the scene had been fired. An inquest has been opened into his death.