Riots spread in London, Home Secy rushes back from holiday

Riots spread in London, Home Secy rushes back from holiday

Looting and violence continued to spread to new areas of London as Home secretary Theresa May cut short her summer holiday today and returned here to take urgent measures to face a possible third consecutive night of unrest.

The London borough of Hackney was the latest scene of violence as youths went on a rampage attacking shops today evening. The trouble in Hackney was being covered live by television channels via helicopter cameras as groups of angry youths pelted missiles at rows of riot police.

Groups of masked youth looted shops, attacked police officers and set fire to vehicles in raging violence, sparked by the killing of a youth in police shooting in Tottenham, raising questions over security of the 2012 Games.

London police launched a massive investigation into what they described as "copycat criminal" violence.

May warned that those responsible "will be made to face the consequences of their actions". May met police chiefs as deputy prime minister Nick Clegg visited Tottenham, where the current unrest began as a protest against the police killing of Mark Duggan, a local man allegedly involved in gun crime.

Clegg, who met business owners, police and local residents on Tottenham High Road, said: "We need to start talking together to identify everything that happened so we can rebuild, not just physically but socially."

He added: "I'm very much here to hear from you and your early reactions. Families have lost their homes. This is a very difficult time for the community but it's also a time for the community to draw together."

Irate mobs looted a giant electrical retail store in the black-dominated southern area of Brixton as violence was reported in several boroughs in north, south and east London following earlier trouble in Tottenham in the north.

At least 160 people were arrested and 35 officers were injured in two nights of rioting and looting.

Even the posh Oxford Circus at the heart of the city's tourist area also reported sporadic violence.

May has been in contact with senior politicians and police officials after the fatal shooting of Mark Duggan, 29, by police during a peaceful protest in Tottenham on Thursday prompted violent riots on Saturday night.

May warned that those responsible "will be made to face the consequences of their actions" and called on all members of local communities to work constructively with the police to help them bring "these criminals to justice".

Trouble has since spread to other areas of London, such as Islington, Enfield, Walthamstow, Oxford Circus and now Hackney. Must of the violence appeared coordinated through mobile phone technology such as Blackberry.

The UK office of Blackberry offered to help the police in tracking individuals alleged to use Blackberry Messenger (BBM) to co-ordinate the disorder.

Patrick Spence, managing director, global sales and regional marketing said: "We feel for those impacted by this weekend’s riots in London. We have engaged with the authorities to assist in any way we can."

He added: "As in all markets around the world where BlackBerry is available, we cooperate with local telecommunications operators, law enforcement and regulatory officials. Similar to other technology providers in the UK we comply with The Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act and co-operate fully with the Home Office and UK police forces."

The looting across London was carried out by "small and mobile groups", the Scotland Yard said.

Deputy Assistant Commissioner Steve Kavanag admitted on Radio 4 that there were too few officers in Tottenham on Saturday night. But he blamed Twitter for fueling looting and violence.

"Social media and other methods have been used to organise these level of greed and criminality," he added.

Scotland Yard said nine officers were injured, including three who were hospitalised after being hit by a fast moving vehicle.

Police said 16 people have been charged with offences including burglary, theft and violent disorder.

Meanwhile, the bullet fired at a police officer before Duggan was shot dead by armed police team is understood to be a police-issue round, media reports said citing initial forensic tests.

It was initially suggested that Duggan died after an exchange of fire with police officers. A bullet was found lodged in an officer's radio.

The Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) has launched an inquiry into the shooting.

A spokesman for the IPCC said, "we await further forensic analysis to enable us to have a fuller and more comprehensive account of what shots were discharged".

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