U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron will return to the U.K. overnight from vacationing in Italy in order to chair an emergency government meeting to discuss rioting in London which is occurring for a third night.
Cameron will chair the COBR emergency response committee and also meet with Home Secretary Theresa May and Metropolitan Police Service Acting Commissioner Tim Godwin, according to an e-mailed statement from the Prime Minister’s Office.
Violence has broken out in several parts of London, shops are being looted and rioters are clashing with police, Sky News reported. Disturbances are occurring in Hackney in east London, and Lewisham, Peckham and Croydon. Rioters also clashed with police in Tower Hamlets, near London’s Docklands financial area.
“Those responsible for this violence and looting will be held responsible,”May, who cut short her vacation to return to London today, told reporters earlier. She described the unrest as “sheer criminality.”
May said at least 215 people had been arrested and 27 charged over the riots, which began in the north London suburb of Tottenham on the night of Aug. 6, after a local man of Afro- Caribbean descent, Mark Duggan, was killed in an exchange of gunfire with police. There was sporadic rioting and looting in other parts of the capital last night. At least 35 police officers have been injured.
Police were deployed across London ahead of a possible third night of rioting. The Metropolitan Police said extra officers had been deployed across the capital. London Mayor Boris Johnson broke off his vacation in North America to fly home and will be back in the capital tomorrow, City Hall said.
“I understand the need for urgent answers into the shooting incident that resulted in the death of a young local man,” Johnson said in a statement as he joined leaders of the black community in calling for calm. “But let’s be clear: these acts of sheer criminality across London are nothing to do with this incident and must stop now.”
Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg today visited Tottenham, which has one of the biggest concentrations of Afro-Caribbeans in Britain.
“I was struck by the determination of local people to stand together against the violence,” Clegg said at an event in south London this evening. “They won’t allow their community to be torn apart by a minority of thieves and troublemakers and, right now, people across the capital, across the country, and the government too, are standing shoulder to shoulder with the people of Tottenham as we begin to put right the damage that has been done.”
Clegg said the looters were “opportunistic folk engaging in smash-and-grab criminality.”
Looters attacked stores last night in Walthamstow, Chingford and Ponders End in northeast London as well as in Brixton in the south, the police said in statements on their website. Officers also dispersed youths at Oxford Circus in the main West End shopping district.
Police described the violence as “copycat criminal activity.” The force said in a statement this afternoon that officers “are carefully monitoring any intelligence and ensuring we have our resources in the right places to support the ongoing policing plan.”
The Independent Police Complaints Commission is investigating the Aug. 6 Tottenham shooting.
“The IPCC awaits further forensic analysis to enable us to have a fuller and more comprehensive account of what shots were discharged, the sequence of events and what exactly happened,” the commission said in a statement yesterday. It said in an earlier statement that “speculation that Mark Duggan was ‘assassinated’ in an execution style involving a number of shots to the head are categorically untrue.”
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